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Hawthorne Effect: Definition, Examples, and Effects

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

The Hawthorne Effect is a phenomenon that occurs when people modify their behavior due to the fact that they are being observed. It is named after the Hawthorne Works, a factory in Cicero, Illinois, where a series of experiments were conducted in the 1920s and 1930s to study the effects of different working conditions on productivity. The Hawthorne Effect has been studied extensively in the fields of psychology and sociology, and it has been found to have a significant impact on how people behave in certain situations.


Examples: Examples of the Hawthorne Effect include people working harder when they know they are being watched, and people being more cooperative when they know they are being observed.


Effects: The Hawthorne Effect has been found to have a significant impact on how people behave in certain situations. It can lead to increased productivity, improved cooperation, and better performance. It can also lead to people feeling more motivated and engaged in their work. Additionally, the Hawthorne Effect can lead to improved communication between employees and managers, as well as increased trust and respect. Though the increased surveillance it engenders may have its own significant drawbacks that should be weighed against the positives.


Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.


Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.

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