Pre-existent expectancy effects in the relationship between caffeine and performance

Nicola A. Elliman*, Jennifer Ash, Michael W. Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study investigated the impact of pre-existent expectancy regarding the effects of the caffeine load of a drink and the perception of the caffeine content on subjective mood and vigilance performance. Caffeine deprived participants (N=25) were tested in four conditions (within subjects design), using a 2 × 2 design, with caffeine load and information regarding the caffeine content of the drink. In two sessions, they were given caffeinated coffee and in two were given decaffeinated coffee. Within these two conditions, on one occasion they were given accurate information about the drink and on the other they were given inaccurate information about the drink. Mood and vigilance performance were assessed post ingestion. Caffeine was found to enhance performance, but only when participants were accurately told they were receiving it. When decaffeinated coffee was given, performance was poorer, irrespective of expectancy. However, when caffeine was given, but participants were told it was decaffeinated coffee, performance was as poor as when no caffeine had been administered. There were no easily interpretable effects on mood. The pharmacological effects of caffeine appear to act synergistically with expectancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)355-358
Number of pages4
Issue number2
Early online date9 Apr 2010
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • caffeine
  • placebo expectancy
  • vigilance performance


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