Examining big brother's purpose for using electronic performance monitoring



We examined whether the reason offered for electronic performance monitoring (EPM) influenced participants' performance, stress, motivation, and satisfaction. Participants performed a data-entry task in one of five experimental conditions. In one condition, participants were not electronically monitored. In the remaining conditions, participants were electronically monitored but the explanation varied. One group was told that they would be electronically monitored but were given no explanation. Another group was told that EPM would be used to research factors associated with performance. In the developmental condition, participants were told that EPM would be used to provide them with feedback to improve performance, and in the administrative condition, participants were informed that EPM would be used to distribute rewards and punishments. Administrative condition participants had higher motivation and performance yet relatively low stress and dissatisfaction levels. Thus, EPM may enhance performance on simple, repetitive tasks without necessarily producing negative outcomes.