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Social facilitation and social loafing

Social facilitation boosts performance in familiar tasks due to increased arousal from others' presence. However, it can hinder performance in unfamiliar tasks. Social loafing, on the other hand, is reduced effort in group tasks when individual contributions aren't evaluated. Both can be managed for better group dynamics and individual performance. Created by Jeffrey Walsh.

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  • leaf green style avatar for user Shiela Gajelonia
    I'm thinking social loafing is somewhat similar to the bystander effect. Since the person tends to act less, given presence of a group. Any thoughts? How are they different, then?
    (2 votes)
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    • piceratops ultimate style avatar for user Paula Concepcion
      From how I see it, both are situations where the diffusion of responsibility comes into play. But what makes them difference is the context of the situation. The Bystander effect happens when, say for example, an accident happens and there is a random group of individuals gathered around the area who can help. Because there are a large number of people, the less one is inclined to help.

      On the other hand, social loafing seems to happen to organized groups working towards a specific task (e.g. a group project at school). When there are many of you working on a specific project, one person may feel less responsible to contribute anything, will lose their motivation to do anything but will try to hide the fact that they're not exerting effort into the project.

      They are similar, but I guess the contexts where you have either happen are different. I hope that makes sense!
      (19 votes)
  • duskpin ultimate style avatar for user JasonDC
    Would the tendency of not voting for a governmental candidate because "I'm just one person so it doesn't really matter if I vote or not" be an example of social loafing? If not, is there another term for this?
    (4 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user alexislorio16
    How does social facilitation relate to the Yerkes-Dodson law?
    (2 votes)
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  • blobby green style avatar for user jyjyfeel32
    Thank you for easy explanation, but what I wonder is that so social loafing and social facilitation is conformity or compliance? I think it is conformity because it is changing behavior to be involved in specific group, but those can be compliance? If so, in what ways?
    (1 vote)
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  • old spice man green style avatar for user eurocrat_au
    really enjoyed this dominant response -> learning -> practice and how it works for easy [help?] and difficult tasks [hinder?]. Now I understand social facilitation better.
    that is so true about evaluation!
    It's good to have our own goals and group goals/what we want to do.
    Does this happen lots in science and social sciences? [we're on the MCAT after all!] It's well known in the humanities.
    And it happens on the Internet too.
    "[Personal contribution] Inessential to success" = "less concerned about being personally evaluated".
    That was a good social psychology question. So the actual speaker had an A+.
    "To return to your original question" ... "it depends".
    (0 votes)
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  • leaf green style avatar for user niahpossog
    So social loafing is like another form of Deindividualization?
    (0 votes)
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    • leaf green style avatar for user James Tye
      I believe that deindividualization is more unconscious on the part of the person in a group. Social loafing is more like a person consciously taking the easy path and showing a certain laziness because others will take care of the project.
      DEINDIVIDUALIZATION, it must be noted, can be the opportunity for a group which has been oppressed by laws, customs or other types of bullying . The deindividualization may be the only realistic way for the individuals to stand up to the oppressors and change the oppression. ((E.G. the protests in Furgeson, Missouri recently. It is to be noted that this approach can have some negative results besides the fact that the oppression has been brought into the light.
      (1 vote)

Video transcript

Voiceover: Imagine you're in front of a group of people and you're about to give a presentation. You look out at the crowd and you see dozens of people, and they're all looking at you, waiting for you to give your presentation. How will the presence of others affect your behavior? Will it help your performance, or will it hinder it? According to the concept of social facilitation, the presence of others will increase the likelihood that the most dominant response for a particular behavior will be shown. So what does that mean? Well, first, the dominant response refers to the response that's most likely to occur. So in the context of your presentation it means that if you practice your presentation for hours on end, you really know your topic in and out, and you generally make very few mistakes when you're practicing it, then the presence of others will lead you to perform very well. It kind of gives you an edge and motivates you to perform well. However if you haven't practiced your presentation at all, and even if you did a couple times, and you made a lot of mistakes, then the presence of others will probably make you perform more poorly than usual. In other words it'll kind of exacerbate, your mistakes. So why does this happen? Well, the presence of others increases your arousal, or your general physiological or psychological excitement. Things like your heart rate increasing, you might be breathing quicker than usual. It's, it's the activation of your autonomic nervous system essentially. And, this is simply known as nervous energy. Your increased energy or arousal leads to likelihood of the dominant response occurring. So whether the dominant response is correct or accurate depends on how easy or difficult a task is, and how well you've learned it or rehearsed it. So the presence of others will likely improve your performance on simple tasks, or tasks that you've learned well over a course of time, and it'll hinder your performance on difficult tasks or tasks that you haven't practiced. So some argue that the increased arousal only takes place when a person's efforts are evaluated, since the situation becomes more high stakes. So what happens when your behavior isn't evaluated? Well in the context of the presentation, example, if you're talking about your presentation concepts with a group of your close friends, who wouldn't be evaluating you necessarily, you may not have any nervous energy, and your performance wouldn't be effected by the presence of others because you're very comfortable with them. But what if you're presenting in a group or to th, the intended audience? Well, as anyone who has ever given a group presentation knows, that's when things can go a little south. When a group collectively works toward a common goal and individuals aren't monitored or evaluated, something called social loafing is likely to occur, which is a separate concept. So social loafing is a tendency to put forth less effort when working on a group task, if the individual contributions aren't evaluated. And if you've ever worked on a group project before you've probably experienced this. Sometimes there's that one person, or few people in the group, who don't wanna contribute anything, because they probably figured that, well, you know, the group will get it done anyway. In other words, it's a group-produced reduction in individual effort. So why does this happen? Well there are several reasons. First, individuals may see their contribution as unessential to success, so they may be less concerned about being personally evaluated. Or they may be trying to guard against being the person who does all the work. So our presentation example, groups experiencing social loafing would be less productive, put forth less effort and generally perform poorly. Now social loafing can be reduced by making the task more challenging, like adding a new component to the presentation or separating the performance of individuals in the group, like giving each person their own grade, as opposed to giving the entire group the same grade. Or you can make the performance of each person essential for success, like if each individual in the group had their own piece to work on for the presentation. So, to return to original question: does the presence of others help or hinder performance? Well, the answer is: it depends.