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Hawthorne Effect

Updated on June 13, 2024 , 763 views

What is the Hawthorne Effect?

The Hawthorne Effect refers to the modification of behaviour in individuals because they are being observed in an experimental study. These changes are not subject to experiment parameter or stimulus.

The Hawthorne Effect gets its name from one of the most popular industrial history experiments that took place in Hawthorne suburb of Chicago in late 1920 and early 1930. These experiments were initially designed by the national research council of America. This experiment was conducted to study the effect of shop/floor lighting at a telephone part factory in Hawthorne on worker productivity.

To the researcher’s surprise, the finding was that the productivity was improved not just when the lighting was improved but also when the lighting was diminished. It was noticed that when changes were made in the working hour variable and rest break variable, productivity improved. The experiment arrived at a conclusion that the workers’ productivity was not being impacted by the changes in the working conditions, but by the fact that someone was so concerned about their working conditions that an experiment was being conducted on it.

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Modern Research and Hawthorne Effect

It is a well-known fact that research often relies on humans as subjects. In such scenarios, the Hawthorne effect is the intrinsic bias that researchers must take into consideration while studying their observation and finding. Remember, that it can be challenging to determine how the subject awareness of the study might impact or modify their behaviour, but keep in mind this phenomenon and take the necessary steps.

Note that there is no universally accepted methodology toward achieving this. Only experience and attention to the given situation can help keep away from achieving the wrong results. Hawthorne effect is understood to be unavoidable in studied and experiments using human subjects.

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