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PSYCH253 Lecture Notes - Social Loafing, Deindividuation, Social Facilitation

Course Code
Emiko Yoshida

of 4
Week 7: Group Influence
- Social facilitation & social loafing
- De-individuation
- Group polarization
- Group think
Social Facilitation
- Work alone versus working with others present
- Contradiction?
- Being around other people is physiologically arousing
- Dominant responses
o Improves performance on well-learned easy task
o Hinders performance on un-mastered complex tasks
o E.g., good tennis player perform better when watched already mastered skills
Less talented player gets worse still acquiring skills
- Others present arousal strengthens dominant responses
Enhancing easy tasks
Impairing difficult tasks
Crowding: The Presence of Many Others
- The presence of others tends to cause arousal
o Perspire (sweat)
o Higher blood pressure
- Intensify positive of negative emotions
o E.g., funny TV shows
Funnier when watching with others than when watching alone
o E.g., Video clip: Seinfeld Elaine on subway
Felt very uncomfortable being crowded by so many people
Felt happy when train was finally moving again
Social Loafing
- Decrease personal efforts as groups now larger
- A common goal
- Collective effort
o Individuals are not accountable
- Not intentional
Study: Tug-of-War Task; Ingham, 1974
- Participants were blindfolded and pulling alone
- Some were told they were pulling alone, and others were told there were people pulling
behind them as well
- Found that participants pulled 18% harder when they knew they were pulling alone than
when they thought they were pulling with others
Social Loafing in Everyday Life
- Household chores
- Push a car in the snow
How Can You Reduce Social Loafing
- Individual evaluation
o E.g., evaluate individual football player’s performance
- Incentives, personally meaningful tasks
o E.g., fundraising for cancer research
- Work with friends rather than strangers
o E.g., increase group identity
- Collective interpersonal orientation
o E.g., women, people from east Asian cultures
- Relax inhibitions because of the power of a group
- Diffusion of responsibility
- Lose a sense of individuality
o E.g., group vandalism
- Class survey invisible for 24 hours
o Altruistic behaviour do nice things
o Relationships spy on people
o Academics see upcoming exams
o De-individuation steal money or car, pranks
Conditions that Elicit De-Individuation
- Group size
o In a large crowd, people don’t feel responsible
o “Everybody is doing it”
- Physical anonymity
o E.g., Cyber interaction
o E-mail
Study: Halloween; Diener, 1976
- Children who came trick-or-treating for Halloween
- Some children were told “you can only take one candy
- Anonymity half of the children were asked for their name and address
- Children went in a group versus alone
- Transgression will be most likely to occur when a group of children were anonymous
- Found that anonymous children were most likely to steal extra candy when they were in
a group
- Both anonymity and group size increased de-individuation
Group Polarization: Do Groups Intensify our Opinions?
- After a group discussion, attitudes become more extreme than before the discussion
- E.g., prejudiced people become more prejudiced after discussion
o Non-prejudiced people become less prejudiced after discussion
What Causes Polarization?
- Informational social influence
o Arguments favour a dominant view
o Making an argument reinforces attitudes
- Normative influence
o Desire to be liked
o Adjust expression of opinions based on perception of other people’s position
o Not always accurate
- Pluralistic ignorance
o People do not have access to other people’s mental state (e.g., attitudes,
preferences, knowledge)
o Assume their behaviour reflects their attitudes
o E.g., Video clip: Friends Joey and Rachel
Joey and Rachel both find out about Monica and Chandler’s relationship
but they both think that they are the only ones who know
o People try to guess other people’s attitudes based on their behaviour
o Behaviour is often influenced by other factors
o E.g., fail to ask questions in class
Understand material
Being embarrassed to ask questions
Group Think
- Agree with one another rather than generate and critically evaluate alternative
- Desire to get along
- Mystery:
o Space shuttle Columbia disaster in 2003
o Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry into earth’s atmosphere
o Foam broke off the external tank and struck the left wing
o Engineers had to try to repair while NASA management failed to respond to the
engineers’ concerns
o Ignored request to inspect possible damage
o Why?