The hidden costs of surveillance for performance and helping behaviour

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Abstract

Common sense and prior research into performance suggests that people will work harder and more productively when they are monitored. However, we predict that there are boundary conditions to this effect. High levels of surveillance may undermine aspects of people's performance and their willingness to provide extra help, especially when they expect to share a sense of identity with those in power. In an experimental study (N = 98) we demonstrated that, compared to low surveillance, high surveillance led to higher productivity on a task, but also that the quality of work suffered. Additionally, we demonstrated that when surveillance was low, individuals offered more help to a leader they shared identity with, rather than to an outgroup leader. However, the beneficial effect of shared identity disappeared when surveillance was high. The results point to the rather paradoxical finding that surveillance, where it is not needed, can do more harm than good. © The Author(s) 2012.

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O’Donnell, A. T., Ryan, M. K., & Jetten, J. (2013). The hidden costs of surveillance for performance and helping behaviour. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 16(2), 246–256. https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430212453629

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