Chapter 3: Sport psychology
1. Social facilitation (mere presence of others)
2. Social loafing (many hands make light work)
3. Group cohesion (the glue that bind us)
What is a group?
- No single definition of group
- Three definitions: types of groups
1. two or more ppl in the same place at same time eg: strangers waiting
for a bus
- ppl don’t have to be interacting
- An “aggregate” or “collective” (or “non-social group)
2. two or more ppl who influence each other (not much interaction or
- a minimal group eg: wave at bb game
- Fans at a baseball game become a minimal group when they start a wave
- try not doing the wave, the influence other ppl are very strong
3. Social groups: two or more ppl who influence each other through social
- interact, communicate, ,make decisions, have shared goals as a group
Part 1: Social facilitation : how are we influenced by the mere presence of
A. Norman Triplett 1898 – interest in cyclists
- cyclists who competed with each other were faster than cyclists who
- The presence of others facilitates performance?
- Wanted to test as scientist (very first experiment in social psychology)
- Group 1 – kids winding strings alone
- Group 2 – kids winding string with other kids (competition)
- Kids wind string faster in the presence of other kids who were winding string
than when alone.
- The presence of others releases energy (“dynamogism”) that facilitates
B. Establishing the generality of the facilitation effect. Occurs with:
- “cofactors” (who perform the same task)
- others who are merely passively present or watching (an audience)
- other physical tasks eg: lifting weights, shooting pool AND
- cognitive tasks eg: simple math problems, learning words associations,
- Ppl even write their signature faster when others are present!
- BUT, sometimes the presence of others inhibits performance (class
- Therefore, on some tasks the presence of others inhibits performance.
- In 40s, this type of research fizzled out! And ignored.
- In the 60s, interest in this area was awakened by a new idea C. Zajonc (1965) and the Yerkes-Dodson law
- why certain presence inhibits or increases performance, which was called
Yerkes law (not found by ZAJONC)
- “physiological” arousal facilitates the dominant response
- “dominant” response is “most likely” to response. Eg: when I say salt, what
are you most likely to say – pepper!
- For easy tasks that are well learned, the dominant response is likely to be
the correct response.
- Arousal should facilitate performance on these easy tasks.
- On difficult tasks that are not well learned, dominant response is more
likely to be incorrect.
- Arousal should inhibit performance – facilitate the incorrect response, but it
is still the dominant response, just the incorrect one.
- The presence of others is a source of arousal would facilitate perf on easy
tasks and inhibit performance on difficult tasks.
- AKA – Social facilitation effect!!
- Saw that every person that showed increased performance actually used
simple well-learned tasks.
Research example: Pool players (% of shots)
Playing alone Audience
Experienced 70 80
Novice 36 25
- novice players didn’t know how to play – so missed the shot (dominant
- a review of 241 studies involving almost 24,000 participants: the social
facilitation effect is real.
D. Why is the presence of others arousing?
1. Evaluation apprehension (they make us anxious by the presence of
others, b/c they might be evaluating us)
- Leads to physiological arousal and leads to dominant response
- if they’re blindfolded (cnts evaluate us), SF is less likely.
2. Others are distracting (creates arousal). Why?
- we experience “attention conflict” (focus on audience or the task? -
- Non-social stimuli (loud noises, flashing lights) show same effect a presence
of others. There is nothing uniquely “social: about social facilitation b/c we
don’t need someone.
3 .The mere presence of others makes us more “alert” b/c they might do
something that we have to respond to. This alertness produces arousal (which
facilitates the dominant response).
- the “cockroach” study ( choose them b/c they are photophobic)
- some roaches were put in a easy maze, b/c there was a single path to the end
of the maze.
- Difficult maze – where the roach had to make a decision btw 3 different
- We know its easy or difficult by looking at how quickly they made a decision.
- Alone easy – 40 secs and difficult – 110 secs. - Introduce an “audience” – put other roaches around the maze and the main
- Audience easy – 30 secs and difficult – 130 secs (slower)
- Similar findings have been shown in fish, rats, ants.
- These roaches were not worried about being evaluated, its due to alertness
- All three explanations have received support; so all three contribute to social
- Learning a task - should not be allowed to do it with other ppl
- Eg: writing an exam when you don’t know the material well, it would be
better to sit away from ppl (front of the room). But if you know the material
well, you should sit around ppl b.c it will cause arousal.
- Other situation – ppl have to work together to reach a goal, not single will be
responsible to reach the single goal.
Part 2: Social loafing (opposite of social facilitation)
- Additive tasks – group’s achievements depends on sum of individual
- Eg: a tug-of-war: group’s achievement (how hard group pulls) depends on
sum of individual contributions (how hard each individual pulls)
- Eight ppl will exert 8 times as much pull on the rope as a single individual?
Ringelmann’s (1913) rope – pulling study
Number pulling Group output Ind. output
1 person 63 kg (base line)
2 people 120 kg 60kg
3 people 158 kg 53 kg
8 people 248kg 31kg!
8 * 63 = 504 kg vs. 248kg (group output)
- but the actual group output is less than half!! Why?