Was There Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments

  title={Was There Really a Hawthorne Effect at the Hawthorne Plant? An Analysis of the Original Illumination Experiments},
  author={Steven D. Levitt and John A. List},
  journal={Behavioral \& Experimental Economics eJournal},
The "Hawthorne effect," a concept familiar to all students of social science, has had a profound influence both on the direction and design of research over the past 75 years. The Hawthorne effect is named after a landmark set of studies conducted at the Hawthorne plant in the 1920s. The first and most influential of these studies is known as the "Illumination Experiment." Both academics and popular writers commonly summarize the results as showing that every change in light, even those that… 

Shining New Light on the Hawthorne Illumination Experiments

This study challenges popular accounts of the “Hawthorne effect,” and the shortcomings of these experiments also have implications for the design of field studies.

The Hawthorne effect in measurements of hand hygiene compliance: a definite problem, but also an opportunity

The Hawthorne effect was first described in the 1950s, based on an analysis of experiments conducted three decades earlier at the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric Company in Illinois, and represents a social phenomenon driven by a desire to please and meet the expectations of the researcher.


Participants of research studies may exhibit altered behaviour resulting from awareness of being a part of an experimental study. Although this so-called Hawthorne effect has led to increased

The Hawthorne effect and energy awareness

Examining how the Hawthorne effect emerges in a large field experiment focused on residential consumers’ electricity use found evidence for a Hawthorne (study participation) effect, seen in a reduction of their electricity use—even though they received no information, instruction, or incentives to change.

Wine and music (III): so what if music influences the taste of the wine?

A growing body of evidence, both anecdotal and scientifically rigorous, now points to the fact that what people taste when evaluating a wine, not to mention how much they enjoy the experience, can be

Come sopravvivere al lavoro monotono e ripetitivo delle Officine Hawthorne: il caso di Geraldina Sirchio (1907-1992) e le altre ragazze immigrate della test room

«Surviving monotony and repetitiveness at Hawthorne Works: the case of Geraldina “Jennie” Sirchio (1907-1992) and the other migrant girls in the test-room» Background: The research studies in the

Tutorial: Theoretical Considerations When Planning Research on Human Factors in Lighting

The present tutorial aims to address the complexity of light effects and how to deal with it by concisely describing the most important pathways that the authors currently are aware of.

Human Relations’ invented traditions: Sociotechnical research and worker motivation at the interwar Rowntree Cocoa Works

What makes workers work better: social or financial incentives? This important management research question has a long and contested history, with most studies emphasizing the former. Almost all


Effort responses can be quantitatively important—for this case they explain the entire “treatment effect on the treated” as measured in a conventional economic RCT, and most of the behavioral response is unobserved by the analyst, or at least not readily captured using coarse, standard controls.



Was There a Hawthorne Effect?

  • S. Jones
  • Psychology
    American Journal of Sociology
  • 1992
The "Hawthorne effect" has been an enduring legacy of the celebrated studies of workplace behavior conducted in the 1920s and 1930s at Western Electric's Hawthorne Plant. This article examines the

The Hawthorne studies-a fable for our times?

  • E. Gale
  • Education
    QJM : monthly journal of the Association of Physicians
  • 2004
A familiar anecdote that relates, with variations, that experiments with improved factory lighting increased the productivity of workers, showed beyond doubt that productivity related to what the subjects believed, and not to objective changes in their circumstances.

The "Hawthorne effect" is a myth, but what keeps the story going?

  • M. Kompier
  • Psychology
    Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health
  • 2006
This article demonstrates that the Hawthorne research does not pass a methodological quality test, and there is no proof of a Hawthorne effect in the original data.

The Hawthorne experiments: First statistical interpretation.

A guide is provided to the proceedings of the Hawthorne experiments, and experimental data are now made readily available. Data from the main experiment (that in the first relay assembly test room at

The Hawthorne experiments.

There is a strong case to be made, as Robert Lynd, for example, has made, for the view that the social scientist is the worst example extant of the person who knows more and more about less and less.

The Hawthorne Studies: A Radical Criticism

These observations suggest that individual work might decrease after the prize and that collaboration might be substituted in its place as a means of coping with diminishing time for work. Using the

The Hawthorne Effect

  • F. Ulmer
  • Psychology
    IEEE Transactions on Reliability
  • 1979
The Hawthorne Effect is invoked to explain many effects of experiments with human subjects (as opposed to inanimate objects like transistors and generators). But the effect is not as simply defined

The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization

PROF. ELTON MAYO approaches the human prob lems of to-day through a study of ‘fatigue’. He shows that although it was once considered “a simple and special study”, it is now known to embrace so wide

Hawthorne Control Procedures in Educational Experiments: A Reconsideration of Their Use and Effectiveness

This article reports on a descriptive analysis of research practices and a meta-analysis of effect sizes associated with control groups employed to address Hawthorne effects in educational

Social psychology.

Within the context of psychology, social psychology is the scientific study of how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.[1]