How can Athletes Benefit from the Hawthorne Effect

What is the Hawthorne Effect?

The Hawthorne effect (also referred to as the observer effect) is a type of reactivity in which individuals modify or improve an aspect of their behavior in response to their awareness of being observed.

It was first discovered when Hawthorne Works Electric Company in Cicero Illinois ran an experiment to test whether lighting changes in the workplace would improve productivity. The result was that increasing the lighting improves the workplace productivity. However decreasing the lighting also increased productivity.  Later it was found that the improvements in productivity were independent of the lighting and were caused because the workers were being observed. 

Lansdberger defined the Hawthorne effect as a short-term improvement in performance caused by observing workers.

How can athletes benefit from this?

To hit PRs at the gym you can organize a small event with your friends/team-mates so that you all are there to watch and cheer for each other. Perhaps, even bet money or dinner that you can complete the reps. If you can’t find anyone I find that even a camera is helpful. I record my lifts on my phone when attempting PRs. It also has the benefit that you can watch the clip and check your form.

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