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Chapter 9

PSYC 2310 Chapter Notes - Chapter 9: Social Loafing, Group Polarization, Social Inhibition

Course Code
PSYC 2310
Jeffrey Yen

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Chapter 9 Summary and Notes
Most human activities are performed in a group
Intragroup processes are processes that happen within a group (focus of chapter)
Intergroup processes are processes that occur between groups of people
Rupert Brown (2000) “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”
Interconnectedness, shared outcomes are important aspects of a group (spectators at a
sporting event (not a group) versus fans of each team (group))
Mandatory tip for large groups: as group size increases, each individual tips less, expecting
others to pick up slack (see social loafing)
Social facilitation: presence of others has a positive influence on an individual's behaviour
Social inhibition: presence of others has a negative influence on an individual's behaviour
Robert Zajonc's theory of social facilitation: mere presence of people increases
physiological arousal and enhances the persons dominant tendency
Mere presence: One explanation for social facilitation is mere presence; simply being around
people is energizing (experiment with cockroaches in a maze confirms mere presence); the
presence of others is a source of arousal and causes social facilitation for easy tasks
Evaluation apprehension: Another explanation for social facilitation is that people are
concerned about being evaluated by the audience
Experiment: participant must pronounce nonsense words - Condition 1: Participant was
alone (control); condition 2: participant in front of audience (evaluation apprehension;
condition 3: participant in front of blindfolded audience (mere presence).
Participants more accurate in audience condition than in alone or mere presence; results
have limited generalizability to real-life situations
Presence of a supportive audience can lead to poorer performance due to “choking under
pressure” because of higher expectations
Distraction is another explanation for the effect of social facilitation. Easy tasks, distraction
non-issue; difficult tasks, distraction impairs performance. Example: teenager driving alone
versus with passengers; teenager distracted with passengers results in more accidents
Social loafing is a group-produced reduction in individual output on easy tasks where
contributions are pooled. When people aren't individually accountable for their performance,
people are tempted to reduce effort; confirmation with studies: people made more noise alone
than when in larger groups, people tip less in larger groups
Collective effort model: people are motivated to exert effort in group tasks only when their
efforts would be identifiable from the rest of the group, that their efforts will make a difference
to the group's success, and when they'll experience positive outcomes
Identifiable contributions when people socially loaf they do it in part to 'hide in the crowd';
people will not loaf if their efforts are identifiable from the groups and especially if their efforts
are compared to others; i.e., working on group projects and you are identified by section, rather
than having work pooled together

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Contributions' impact another factor that influences social loafing is if you believe your
efforts will have an impact on group performance; people who must perform a difficult and
unique task for the group don't reduce effort as long as they believe their efforts will have impact
on the group, people who don't believe this reduce effort
Task importance people are also motivated to work hard of a group task if it is highly
important to them or if it affects them directly or within a short time frame (the following year
versus 6 years)
In cases where the task is very important, people can be motivated to work hard even
when their own contributions won't be identifiable-especially when they believe other's in
the group aren't going to work up-to-par
Social compensation is the notion that if a project is important to you, you may work even
harder to compensate for the poor performance or social loafing of others
Experiment with partners, work on a verbal problem and a math problem
People who thought their partner was male (assumed good at math), socially
compensated by working on verbal problems; people who thought their partner was
female (assumed good at verbal), socially compensated by working on math problems
Group cohesion refers to morale, team spirit, and solidarity of members of the group.
Cohesiveness transforms individuals into groups; highly cohesive groups perform better than less
cohesive ones.
Robert Klassen and Lindsey Krawchuk (2009) found that cohesion affects group
performance among groups of 13-year-olds, but not 11-year-olds
Group polarization occurs when the initial tendencies of group members become more extreme
following group discussion
This process of polarization can lead to a phenomenon known as the risky shift
When people must choose between a relatively safe choice and a risky choice, groups are
much more willing to make a risky choice than are individuals who must act alone
(assuming groups initial tendency is towards risk); if the group is originally inclined
toward caution, the group becomes more cautious
Hear more persuasive arguments when one hears more persuasive arguments,
repeated arguments, or points they hadn't considered, their views can become more
Group members also deliberately look for points which support their original view
Learn group norms group polarization can also occur after discussion due to more
accurately being able to assess the norms of the group; prior to group discussion there is
an inaccurate understanding of group members views (in terms of position held and
People also tend to want to fit in and also be “better than” other members of a group and
thus expressing even more extreme views is a way of demonstrating that our views are
strong and in the right direction. Knowing group norms also makes us more confident in
our own views.
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