Psychology 2990A/B Lecture Notes - Social Facilitation, Social Loafing, Simple Math
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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.