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The Hawthorne effect: does being watched effect behaviour?

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 30 March 2017



The Hawthorne effect: does being watched effect behaviour?
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 201
Posted DateThursday 30 March 2017 10:22 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen

The Hawthorne effect is where individuals modify their behavior in response to their awareness of being taken notice of or observed.

You are probably familiar with the Hawthorne effect. It is frequently referenced in management literature.

What you might not know is that the research was flawed and the story is a bit of a myth.

This does not mean that being watched does not affect behaviour - it does - just that the Hawthorne research does not support the idea.

This is what the Economist says in a 2009 article Light Work: Being watched may not affect behaviour.

And here is the original research paper by Steven Levitt and John List: The Hawthorne effect is a myth.

Thanks to David Creelman for pointing me to this research.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
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