General Question

luigirovatti's avatar

Did you know about the "Hawthorne effect"?

Asked by luigirovatti (1837points) October 7th, 2019

If you want a detailed description on Wikipedia, here it is (, otherwise I’ll explain it myself, based on my own research or both:

Subjects (read on) typically modify their behavior when they recognize that they are part of an experiment. This is known as the Hawthorne effect, named after the place where this result was first encountered, the Western Electric’s Hawthorne Works. A basic study to determine how the level of light in their building affected the productivity of laborers revealed that the amount of luminosity made no difference in the employees’ productivity. The workers increased output whenever the light was manipulated, whether from low to high or vice versa. In fact, a change in productivity occurred when any variable was manipulated, which made the researchers postulate that the staff altered their behavior simply becaise they were aware that they were under observation.
Some subjects have this predisposition, all researchers can do is attempt to factor this effect into the research design.

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8 Answers

elbanditoroso's avatar

Yes, very well known phenomenon. I read about it decades ago.

JLeslie's avatar

Sure. Learned about it in high school.

gorillapaws's avatar

Yes. I learned about it in my Freshman Business class.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

Yes. I just didn’t know the name was.

snowberry's avatar

Children often exhibit the same behavior. I figured I had won for the day if my kids behaved better in public than at home.

Pinguidchance's avatar

@luigirovatti Yes, and quite frankly I’ll be watching you more closely now.

LostInParadise's avatar

It is something that I thought might be the case, but I did not know there was a name for it. Sometimes there are psychological experiments that appear to be testing for one thing but are really testing for something else.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I did not know the name but I was aware of the phenomenon. I saw it first-hand.
Back in the stone age when we tested cars by actually driving them on roads, a group of us would stop off at a neighborhood restaurant carrying out clip boards and stop watches.

One time, one of the guys clicked his stop watch when we sat down. He then clicked it again when the waitress arrived. She saw that and began to move faster and faster. She brought our coffees and food very quickly. Plates were cleared and the check arrived in record time. It came so fast, we felt rushed.

We never mentioned it again. and things returned to normal.

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