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The Hawthorne Effect

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The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne Effect is the tendency, particularly in social experiments, for people to modify their behaviour because they know they are being studied, and so to distort (usually unwittingly) the research findings.

Section Outline: How people respond to being studied. The original experiments at the Hawthorne plant. Responses to real and imagined changes in lighting. Manipulating working conditions. The move from psychology to ethnography. Unofficial worker practices. Being studied versus engagement with the researcher. Hawthorne as poor experimental design. Extraneous influences: the Depression.

When people know that they are being studied, they change the way they behave. The researcher's difficulty is to know how things have changed. Informants may disguise their actions and feelings, because they do not want to share them with somebody ...

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