Hawthorne Experiments

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The Hawthorne effect is an increase in worker productivity produced by the psychological stimulus of being singled out and made to feel important. It is a term referring to the tendency of some people to work harder and perform better when they are participants in an experiment. Individuals may change their behavior due to the attention they are receiving from researchers rather than because of any manipulation of independent variables. The Hawthorne experiments took place from 1927 to 1933 in the Hawthorne plant of Western Electric. They wanted to test scientific management. The experiments were held by Elton Mayo, and a few of his colleagues. The experiments began as a series of productivity studies from a scientific management perspective. It dealt with environmental conditions such as lighting, room temperature and humidity to try to increase worker productivity. “The purpose was to find out the relation of the quality and quantity of illumination to the efficiency of industrial workers.” There was a “test group” and a “control group” and the “test group” was led to believe that the illumination was increased or decreased when it really wasn’t. in a way these experiments sort of backfired because no matter what they did the results were the same as those of the “control group.” They held other sets of experiments but still they didn’t really get results that they wanted. They increased working conditions and the productivity increased, then they decreased working conditions and still the productivity increased. They were stunned and wondered what was going out. It turns out that because the workers knew they were involved in these experiments, they increased their productivity. They were not really reacting to the experimental conditions and this changed everything. This was concluded as the Hawthorne effect; “when humans know they are being studied or watched, they will react to that observation.”

Resource:
Collins, Peter A. & Stohr,...
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