PSYC 2310 Lecture Notes - Social Loafing, Ingroups And Outgroups, Motivation

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14 Nov 2012
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Social Psyc Chapter 9
How do groups influence behaviour
- Most human activities are performed in a group
- People play in groups, work in groups, and socialize in groups
- Our well-being depends on our relationships with the people we socialize with
- Understanding groups both how they influence is and what they are is important both for people in
general and for the researchers who strive to deepen our understanding of groups and dynamics
- Some processes that happen within a group are called intragroup processes
- Processes that occur between groups of people are known as intergroup processes
- The term group has also been defined as two or more people who have a common fate or some degree
of interdependence, who co-exist with a social structure, or who have face-to-face or some other form
of interaction
- The notion of interconnectedness, or shared outcomes, is an important aspect of a group
- Brown’s definition “a group exists when two or more people define themselves as members of it and
when its existence is recognized by at least one other
- Single people leave the most generous tips and parties of four or more were the least generous
- As the group size increases, each individual person slightly reduces the size of his or her tip, expecting
that others will pick up the slack
Social facilitation
- In some cases, the presence of others can have a positive influence on an individual’s behaviour
- Phenomenon first noticed by Norman Triplett known as social facilitation
- In other cases, researchers have noted that the presence of other people can also lead to poorer
- People who perform a difficult task do more slowly in front of other people than when they’re
- Phenomenon known as social inhibition
- According to Zajonc’s theory of social facilitation, the mere presence of other people increases our
physiological arousal, and this arousal enhances whatever a person’s dominant tendency is on a
particular task
- On well-learned or easy tasks, the dominant response is the correct one
- On the other hand, high arousal leads to poorer performance on tasks that are difficult or less familiar
- This theory explains why people perform better on some tasks in the presence of a group, compared to
when they’re alone, but worse on others
- Why does the presence of others lead to arousal?
1. Mere presence
2. Evaluation apprehension
3. Distraction
Mere presence
- One explanation for social facilitation is that the mere presence of other people is energizing
- Researchers constructed two mazes: one was very simple, the other was more complex
- In one condition, the cockroaches were alone as they went from one end of the maze to the
- In the other condition, they were observed by other cockroaches as they completed the maze
- Cockroaches performed the simple maze faster in the presence of others than they did alone
- However, the presence of other cockroaches disrupted performance on the more complex
- Social facilitation effects for easy tasks in the presence of others are not limited to humans and
cockroaches: they’ve also been reported in animals
- In sum, the presence of others serves as a source of arousal, which in turn causes social facilitation for
easy tasks
Evaluation Apprehension
- Other researchers believe that social facilitation is caused by people’s concern about being evaluated
by this audience
- In a study by Cottrell, he asked people to pronounce various nonsense words under one of three
1. Alone
2. In front of two confederates
3. In front of two confederates who were blindfolded creating a mere presence condition
- People in front of two confederates who weren’t blindfolded were more accurate than those either
alone or in the mere presence condition
- This finding indicates that the presence of an evaluating audience is a stronger influence on
performance than the mere presence of others in an experimental setting
- It’s important to note that this study might have limited generalizability to real-life situations
- Unfortunately, the presence of a supportive audience can lead to worse performance on difficult or
unfamiliar tasks
- Students who took a math test in front of a friend felt less stress but made more errors and took longer
to complete it
- This research suggests that we may “choke under pressure” of our audience’s high
- Another explanation for the effect of arousal on performance is that the presence of other people is
distracting decreasing our ability to focus on a particular task
- If we’re performing an easy task, this distraction isn’t a problem
- However, if we’re performing a complex task, this distraction impairs our performance
Social Loafing
- In group situations, when people are not individually accountable for their performance, people, or at
least people from individualistic cultures, are often tempted to reduce their effort
- Social loafing describes this group-produced reduction in individual output on tasks when contributions
are pooled
- According to the collective effort model, people are motivated to exert effort in group tasks only when
they believe their distinct efforts are identifiable, that these efforts will make a difference in the group’s
success, and when they’ll experience positive outcomes
Identifiable contributions
- One factor that influences social loafing is whether people believe that their own contribution will be
- When people socially loaf, they do it in part because they can “hide in the crowd”
- Making their outputs identifiable decreases people’s tendency to withdraw effort in a group setting
- People don’t socially loaf when their own outputs will be evaluated, especially if these outputs will be
compared to others’ outputs, or if they’ll receive individual feedback about their efforts
Contributions impact
- Another factor that influences social loafing is whether you believe your efforts will have an impact on
the group’s performance – in other words, if you work harder, better performance will result
- People who must perform a difficult and unique task for the group don’t reduce their effort, even
when their individual output won’t be evaluated
- In this case, they feel they can make a unique and important contribution to the group effort
- On the other hand, people who believe their efforts aren’t necessary for the success of the group tend
to display less effort
- People who believe their partner is capable of good performance but lazy are particularly likely to
reduce their own effort
- No one wants to be the “sucker” who does all the work while others rest
- This is why many students fear group projects they’re concerned that they’ll end up being the one
who does all the work for the group
Task importance
- People are also motivated to work hard on a group task if the task is highly important to them
- In cases where the task is very important, people can be highly motivated to work hard even when
their own contributions won’t be identifiable especially when they believe that other group members
aren’t going to work to produce a high-quality product
- In this case, social comprehension occurs, meaning people work harder on a project to
compensate for poor performance or social loafing by others
Group cohesion
- Group cohesion refers to the morale, team spirit, and solidarity of the members of the group
- Cohesiveness is an essential characteristic that transforms a collection of individual people into
members of a group
- Highly cohesive groups perform better than less cohesive ones
- In the 2002 and 2010 Winter Olympics, the Canadian men and women’s hockey teams won gold
medals, demonstrating the importance of team cohesion
- Klassen and Krawchuk have suggested we become susceptible to the effects of group cohesiveness in
early adolescence
- They found cohesion affected group performance among groups of 13 year olds, but not
groups of 11 year olds, which suggests that working effectively in a group is a developmental process
and something that is learned
How do intragroup processes influence decision-making
- Two phenomena that can lead groups to err in their decisions: group polarization and groupthink
Group polarization
- Occurs when the initial tendencies of group members become more extreme following group
- This process can lead groups to make riskier decisions than individuals would make alone a
phenomenon originally described as the risky shift