Listen to a conversation between a student and her sociology professor.
I’m glad you got my message and were able to make it, where are the other members of your group? Tom and Jane?
They are actually at the library, they have a biology lab assignment that’s due later this afternoon.
So I’m here to represent the whole group, but. .um...when we got your e-mail message about being worried about our research project,
we were a little confused, we thought you were excited about our idea for the project.
Well, I think it’s a great research topic, but when I looked closely at your plan for accomplishing the research,
I realized that your group was probably asking for some trouble.
What do you mean? I thought that, you know, by monitoring students studying in the library we could really get a good understanding of people’s study habits and stuff.
The thing is, I think you might have a problem because of the Hawthorne Effect.
The Hawthorne Effect?
The Hawthorne Effect is a technical term for when researchers...uh...more or less forget about a specific variable, the variable of the researchers themselves.
Now, the students in the library, they are going to know that you are observing them, right?
So you have to consider the effect your very presence will have on the people you are observing.
But...so you think...I mean it’s not like our observations would be a secret.
The students would know exactly what we would be doing, I mean, we’d put up a sign right outside the library.