John Henry Effect

What is John Henry Effect ?

‘John Henry Effect’ refers to the experimental bias found in some individuals when they are in a social experiment. The individual experiencing the John Henry effect would perceive that they are at a disadvantage compared to others and they might try to do something extra to overcome this perceived disadvantage.

A major disadvantage of this effect is that it can easily skew the results. In order to overcome this effect, the individuals placed under the social experiment are often kept unaware of the fact that they are part of such an experiment.

The term ‘John Henry Effect’ was first used by Gary Saretsky in 1972, who used it to describe the actions of John Henry, a famous American steel driver who worked so hard to outperform the newly developed steam drill that he died in the process.

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