Computer Monitoring of Work Performance: Extending the Social Facilitation Framework to Electronic Presence

John R. Aiello, Carol M. Svec

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


This study demonstrated the utility of employing a social facilitation framework to the study of computer monitoring of work performance. The physical presence of an observer watching a subject work on a complex task (as a supervisor might “look over an employee's shoulder“) was contrasted with four conditions involving the electronic presence of computer‐based work monitoring (as a supervisor might monitor an employee's work remotely via computer) and a control condition of subjects working alone without any monitoring of their work. Task performance was severely impaired for participants who were monitored electronically as well as for those who were monitored “in person.” Two interventions, providing participants with a sense of control over their work conditions and monitoring participants as a group rather than as individuals, each reduced the negative impact of monitoring on task performance by almost 40%. Results also indicated that individuals with an external locus of control (who believe reinforcements received are primarily determined by factors outside of themselves, e. g., other people) experience greater anxiety than those with an internal locus of control under monitoring conditions. Implications of these findings for social facilitation and the rapidly expanding use of computer‐based work monitoring are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)537-548
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Apr 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology

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