Lecture Feb 11
Psychology Applied to Sports
Ch 4: Sport Psychology Interventions
Todays Lecture: Behavior in Groups
Prologue: what is a group?
3 definitions (types of groups)
1. 2 or more people in the same place at the same time (e.g, strangers waiting for a
bus). No interaction or communication. An aggregate or collective (a non-social
2. Two or more people who influence each other (not much interaction or
communication). A "minimal group" (e.g, people doing "the wave" at a baseball
game, standing for the national anthem)
3. A "social group": two or more people who influence each other through social
interaction. They interact, communicate, make decisions, have shared goals.
Part 1: Social Facilitation: How are we influenced by the mere presence of others?
A. Norman Triplett (1898)
- Cyclists who competed with each other were faster than cyclists who competed
- The presence of others facilitates performance?
- Triplett conducted the first experiment in social psychology ever; brought kids into
a room, wound string on a fishing reel as fast as they could did this alone or in the
presence of another kid (also winding string on the fishing reel), kids weren’t
communicating. He found that just like with the cyclists, children wound string
faster when in the presence of other kids winding string. Triplett speculated that the
presence of other releases additional nrg ("dynamogism") and this extra nrg
B. Establishing the generality of the facilitation effect. Occurs with:
- "Coactors" (who perform the same task)
- Others who are merely present (an audience)
- Other physical tasks (e.g, lifting weights, shooting pool) AND
- Cognitive tasks (simple math problems, learning word associations, naming
- People even write their signatures faster when others are present
- BUT, sometimes the presence of others inhibits performance (class presentations)
C. Zajonc (name rhymes with science..) (1965) and the Yerkes-Dodson Law
- Physiological response arousal facilitates the dominant response (dominant=
response that’s most likely to occur)
- On easy tasks, dominant response is correct, physiological arousal should facilitate
performance - On difficult tasks, dominant response is incorrect, and arousal should inhibit
- The presence of others is a source of arousal: should facilitate performance on easy
tasks and inhibit performance on difficult tasks
The social facilitation effect
A research example: Pool players (% of shots)
Experience pool players who could make about 70% when alone, could make about
80% when an audience was present
Novice players who could make about 36% when alone could only make about 25%
when an audience was present
A review of 241 studies involving almost 24 000 participants: social facilitation
effect is real
D. Why is the presence of others arousing?
1. Evaluation apprehension (others make us anxious because they might be
- If they're blindfolded (can't evaluate us), social facilitation is less likely
2. Others are distracting (creates arousal), why?
- We experience "attentional conflict" (focus on audience or task? arousal)
- Non-social stimuli (loud noises, flashing lights) show the same effect as presence of
others. There's nothing uniquely social about social facilitation!
3. (Zajonc) The mere presence of others makes us more alert or vigilant, because
they might do something that we have to respond to. This alertness produces
arousal (which facilitates dominant response)
- The cockroach study. Cockroaches don’t like light. Some cockroaches were exposed
to an easy maze (straight line from light to dark place), took about 40 seconds. Other
cockroaches were put in a difficult maze, 3 options away form the light and one is
right, took about 110 seconds. Zajonc then introduced an audience, audience boxes
containing other cockroaches. The presence of an audience facilitated performance
in easy maze (ran faster- 30 seconds), the audience inhibited performance in
difficult maze (110 seconds - 130 seconds). This has been demonstrated with fish,
chickens, rats, parakeets, centipedes, ants, and variety of animals.
- Unlikely that these cockroaches were worried about being evaluated by their peers
or worried about where to focus their attention. Concluded it’s the mere presence of
others and the alertness they cause.
- When it comes to people its probably a combo of all 3
- Social facilitation occurs when a single person is totally responsible for achieving
the particular goal - other people are other coactors or passive audience
- Group members work together to achieve shared goal - very different situation - no
single individual is responsible for achieving goal - pool efforts - sets the stage for
social loafing Part 2: Social Loafing
Additive tasks: the group's achievement depends on sum of in