A demand characteristic is used to describe specific cues in experimental research that may inadvertently influence a participant’s response or behavior in an experiment. A demand characteristic can manifest in a number of different ways if the researcher is not careful when designing and proceeding with a study. In communication and social research, demand characteristics can create bias in an experiment due to the subject becoming aware of the purpose of the experimental design and, thus, potentially bias or invalidate the outcomes of the experiment. The presence of demand characteristics within an experiment can introduce challenges for researchers, because demand characteristics can call into question the internal and external validity of the experimental findings. This entry discusses the issues surrounding demand characteristics, some ...
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