Hawthorne House – that’s the name of my apartment building. Hawthorne Place – that’s the street I live on. I googled ‘hawthorne’ before I signed my lease, just in case something weird pops up. I was also recently told that Hawthorne calls to mind Nathaniel Hawthorne, the author of The Scarlet Letter. By this point, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised there’s a Psychology phenomenon called the HAWTHORNE EFFECT.
The Hawthorne Effect simply says that people change their behaviors when they know that they are being observed. It all started when a researcher by the name of Henry Landsberger ran an experiment at a factory called Hawthorne Works near Chicago (chi-town, woop!) He ran studies on the factory workers and factors influencing their productivity, but was met with a puzzle. Different runs of the experiment were giving him conflicting results (pretty much a researcher’s worst nightmare).
Finally, he found out that the factory workers’ productivity improved when they know that someone is keeping track of them. The Hawthorne Effect has led to implications in research and business settings. In research, we have to be cognizant of how participants’ responses and actions are being affected just by knowing that they are being studied. In business, it supports the need for constant employee monitoring. Perhaps it is not applicable to all industries, but for factory workers, having a manager over their shoulders and knowing that they are being watched is a way to improve their productivity, and therefore, company revenue.
Do you feel awkward when you know you’re being watched? Do your actions/behaviors/thoughts change? I know mine do.