Electronic Performance Monitoring: A Laboratory Investigation of the Influence of Monitoring and Difficulty on Task Performance, Mood State, and Self-Reported Stress Levels


Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Ronald Henderson, Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra, Canberra ACT 2616, Australia.


Increases in the sophistication of workplace computerization has provided modern-day managers with superior tools, such as electronic performance monitoring (EPM), with which to supervise their employees. Expanding on studies by Aiello (e. g., Aiello, 1993), the present study aimed to examine EPM in a social facilitation framework, exploring not only the relationship with task performance and stress, but also with an individual's subjective mood state. Thirty-three female and 15 male university students were required to solve a series of anagrams via a purpose-built computer program. Both the difficulty of the anagrams (easy or difficult) and the presence of monitoring (present or absent) were varied for each participant. Results indicated that the visual presence of EPM resulted in an easy task being performed with greater proficiency and a difficult task being performed with less proficiency. When participants were attempting to solve an easy task, the presence of EPM resulted in a participant's mood state becoming significantly more positive; whereas when solving a difficult task, EPM caused a more negative mood state. Similarly, it was found that a higher level of subjective stress was experienced when EPM was present, as opposed to absent. when individuals were performing a difficult task. The implications for the workplace applications produced by this study are discussed.