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Social facilitation and social loafing

Video transcript

imagine you're in front of a group of people and you're about to give a presentation you look out at the crowd 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 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 will 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 the likelihood of the dominant response occurring so whether the dominant response is correct or accurate depends on how easy or difficult the 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 effort 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 affected by the presence of others because you're very comfortable with them but what if you're presenting in a group or to the intended audience well as anyone who's ever given a group presentation knows that's when things can go a little south when a group collectively works towards 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 want to contribute anything because they probably figure 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 an essential 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 in our presentation example groups experiencing social loafing will 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