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John Henry effect


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A tendency for members of the control group in certain experiments to adopt a competitive attitude towards the experimental group, thereby negating their status as controls. In an industrial setting, for example, if members of the experimental group are provided with a powerful new tool, members of the control group may treat this as a challenge and, using the old tool, may try to beat the experimental group members in productivity. [Named after John Henry, an enormously strong and hard-working African-American railroad worker and folk tale hero of the late 19th century, possibly based on a real person]


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