ConversationHawthorne Effect: Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and her sociology professor. Professor: It's a relief that you got my message. But where ... are Tom and Jane? They're your group members, aren't they? Student: They are actually at the library working on a biology lab assignment because that's due later this afternoon. So, only I was able to make it. I hope you don't mind. Professor: Okay, that's fine, as long as you're here to represent the whole group. Student: Thanks. We thought you liked our idea but when we got your e-mail, um ... about being concerned about our research project, we were a bit confused. Professor: Well, I definitely think the topic is great but when I looked closely at your proposal, I realized a problem. I was pretty sure that your group is probably asking for some trouble. Student: What do you mean? We thought monitoring students who are studying in the library would be a good way to understand people's study habits and stuff. Professor: The thing is ... you know ... you might have a problem because of the Hawthorne effect. Student: Sorry? Um ... . What ... what effect? Professor: Hawthorne effect is a technical term for when researchers ... um ... more or less forget about a specific barrier. The output variable of the research is themselves. Let's see, the students in the library, they are going to know that there're some observers, right? So you have to consider the effect your own presence has on the people you're watching. Student: But ... so you think ... I mean ... no, it's nothing like our project would be a secret. Of course they would know that we're making an observation on them because we would put some signs in the library. Professor: Yes, but that's just it! If people know they're being observed, they behave differently. Do you know how the Hawthorne effect got its name? Well, the term gets its name from a manufacturing factory called the Hawthorne Works, where a series of experiments on factory workers were carried out between 1924 and 1932. Researchers strove to figure out in what conditions workers' productivity can be maximized. Student: What sort of conditions? Professor: Well, the first thing they experimented with was the illumination. Was the workers' performance better with bright lights? Or dim lights? Well, here's the thing. Regardless of light intensity, the worker's productivity went up. Student: Huh? That doesn't make any sense. Professor: Exactly. So, initially, the experiment turned out to be a failure. Then, they realized that the work output had been affected by their very presence. Due to increased attention on the workers, they felt compelled to work harder. Student: Oh ... . Now I understand why you pointed out a problem with my group's project. But ... does this mean that ... we ... . Professor: No, no, don't worry. I don't want to send you all back to square one. But why not discuss this matter with your group members? They might come up with some good ideas to get around the problem.