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Chapter 2

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PSYC 2120
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1. Human beings, like all large primates except the orangutan, are group-living animals who influence and must get along with others. 2. The presence of other people sometimes facilitates human performance and sometimes hinders it, but in predictable ways. Research in the area of social facilitation has shown that the presence of others is arousing, and that arousal increases people's tendencies to do what they are already predisposed to do. On easy tasks, people are predisposed to respond correctly, and so increasing this tendency facilitates performance. In contrast, on novel or difficult tasks, people are not predisposed to respond correctly, and so arousal hinders performance by making it more likely that they will respond incorrectly. 3. A number of clever experiments have indicated that it is the mere presence of others that leads to social facilitation effects, although other factors, including evaluation apprehension, can intensify them. Moreover, distraction-conflict theory explains social facilitation by noting that awareness of another person can distract an individual and create a conflict between attending to the other person and to the task at hand, a conflict that is itself arousing. 4. Social loafing is the tendency to exert less effort on a group task when individual contributions cannot be monitored. 5. There is a tendency for large groups of people to sometimes transform into unruly mobs. This may happen because the anonymity and diffusion of responsibility that are often felt in large groups can lead to a mental state of deindividuation in which one is less concerned with the future, with normal societal constraints on behavior, and with the consequences of one's actions. 6. The deindividuated state of "getting lost in the crowd" stands in marked contrast to how people normally feel, which is quite individually identifiable. Self-awareness theory maintains that focusing attention on the self will lead to individuation and, in turn, careful deliberation and concern with how well one's actions conform to
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