Public Scrutiny Effect on Performance

Topic: How public scrutiny (as a type of reward) influence performance
Researchers: Dan Ariely (Professor of Behavioral Economics, Duke University, US) and colleagues
Published By: The New York Times, November 19th, 2008
Year: Probably 2006-2008
Main Conclusion: Social pressure has the same effect that money has – positive influence on performance of mechanical tasks and negative effect on performance of cognitive tasks.

Description of Experiment
a. Researchers gathered 39 students from the University of Chicago to solve anagram puzzles – once in the privacy of a cubicle and once in front of others.
b. While the subjects wanted to perform better in front of other, they in fact did worse.

Social pressure has the same effect that money has.  It motivates people, especially when the tasks at hand require only effort and no skill, but it can provide stress, too, and at some point that stress overwhelms the motivating influence.