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Social facilitation and social loafing

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.