Social facilitation
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Social Facilitation. August 31, 2006. Announcements/Objectives. Discuss innovation paper guidelines. Learn about social facilitation and go over results from last week’s experiment. Basic Phenomenon. Social influence: How people behave when in the presence of others.

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Social facilitation l.jpg

Social Facilitation

August 31, 2006


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Announcements/Objectives

  • Discuss innovation paper guidelines.

  • Learn about social facilitation and go over results from last week’s experiment.


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Basic Phenomenon

  • Social influence: How people behave when in the presence of others.

    • Social facilitation: Is a person’s performance on a task affected by the “mere presence” of another person?

      EARLY DEMONSTRATIONS:

  • Triplett (1897) bicyclist's times faster when racing together than when racing alone.

  • Children told to wind string on a fishing reel as rapidly as possible wound faster when working with a co-actor than when working alone.


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Research Dilemma

  • Sometimes the presence of others improves performance:

    • Triplett’s studies of cycling and reeling.

    • Ants excavate more sand, chickens eat more grain.

  • Sometimes the presence of others diminishes performance:

    • Learning non-sense syllables, completing a maze, performing complex multiplication problems.


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The Zajonc Solution

  • Divergent findings caused research in the area to halt completely for almost 25 years.

  • Zajonc (rhymes with Science) proposition:

    • Arousal enhances whatever response tendency is dominant (e.g. behavior during an emergency).

    • Presence of others increases arousal which in turn facilitates performance on easy tasks for which the dominant response is the correct one.






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Discussion of Results

  • How did it feel to be in front of an audience?

  • Was it less motivating to be outside of the classroom, or did you feel “watched” anyway?

  • What are some individual differences that might explain why the results didn’t work quite as well this semester?


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Psychological Mechanisms

  • AROUSAL

    • Presence of others leads to arousal.

    • We are more alert in the presence of strangers than familiars and more aroused in the presence of those we cannot watch.

    • Arousal in turn influences task performance by increasing concentration.

  • Did participants feel nervous while completing the math problems? Why or why not?


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Psychological Mechanisms (cont.)

  • ATTENTION

    • Physical distraction: Response to the presence of others is an urge to monitor them.

    • Conflict between attending to the audience versus attending to task increases arousal and influences task performance.

  • Was the audience distracting? Did you find yourself watching the audience?


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Psychological Mechanisms (cont.)

  • SOCIAL EVALUATION PROCESSES

    • Learned fear of being evaluated—“evaluation apprehension”.

    • Apprehension facilitates performance of simple tasks but inhibits performance of difficult tasks.

    • Increase in self-focus reminds people that they can fail and therefore motivates them.

  • Did you worry about doing poorly on the math exercise? Did the fear motivate or paralyze you?


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Methodological Questions

  • Social facilitation is discussed in reference to ants, cockroaches, bird, chickens, humans, etc.

    • Did you find these generalizations convincing?

    • Should psychologists stick to studying people?

  • Is anyone really ever alone in a social facilitation experiment?


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Thinking of Practical Applications

  • “I would advise the student to work all alone, preferably in an isolated cubicle and to arrange to take his examinations in the company of many other students on stage and in the presence of a large audience.”

    • Why did Zajonc give this advice?

    • How do you study for exams?

    • How do you typically take an exam?


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Facilitation in organizations

  • When Bloomberg became mayor of NYC, the first thing he did was to tear down all of the cubicles so that everyone could see each-other.

    • Did he have the right idea?

    • Which tasks in organizations does social facilitation apply to?

    • Does this theory put any boundary conditions on the effectiveness of working in groups?


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On Thursday

  • We will discuss social norms.

  • Read all three articles I assigned for this week.


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