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SOCIAL FACILITATION STUDIES

Social facilitaion
• Triplett (1898)- cycle

- based on an oberservation that competing cyclists produced faster times when


racing with other cyclists
- rather than simply competing on their own
- he found that cyclists were slowest when racing alone and fasestest when
racing with a pacemaker or in a racing group.

• *Triplett (1898) social facilitaion

Aim:whether or not performance would be enhanced in the presence of other


people performing the same task.

Method
- Instructed to wind in a line on a fishing reel as quickly as they could.
- In a practice period, participants performed the task both alone and in
pairs, alternating between the two conditions.
- In each trial, participants were timed to determine how long it took to
make about 150 winds of the reel.
Results
- Performance faster in the presence of another person than when the task
was done alone.
- Participants were 1% faster when working in pairs than alone.

Conclusion

- Participants performance at the task was facilitated (enhanced) by the presence


of another person -performing the same task
- The mere presence of another person performing the same task = social
facilitation

• Allport (1924) social facilitaion

Method
- Participants worked alone in cubicles or sitting together round a table

Results
- with simple tasks such as crossing out certain letters in words-performance
was better in front of other people
- with complicated tasks such as solving complex problems-performance was
better when participants worked alone.
Dashiell (1930) social facilitaion
Results
-number of arithmetic problems performed by participants increased in the
presence of others
- and so did the number of errors made

Schmitt et al 1986- social facilitation

Results
- participant typed name faster in front of an audience
- to type name backwards = performance better when alone.

*Michael et al (1982) dominant response

Aim
- Test the prediction that the presence o an audience would facilitate dominate
responses and inhibit poorly learned behaviours.

Method

- first part of study: student pool players were observed in a students union
building from a distant
- 12 players were selected: 6 identified as above average , 6 below average

- Second part of study: 4 observers stood round a pool table and observed
players, made their presence known over a number of games.

Results

• above average = potted 80% of their shots when observed, compared to


71% when not observed- social facilitation

• below average = potted 25% of their shots when observed compared to 36%
accuracy when not observed- social inhibitation

Conclusion

-audience facilitates (enhances) dominant response


- audience inhibit non-dominant responses
Zajonc et al 1965- dominant responses

-performance of a well-learned or well-practised task is facilitated/enhanced by


the presence of other people
- complex tasks is inhibited by presence of other people

-Simple mazes are learned faster in the presence of other like animals
-complex mazes are learned faster alone -Zajonc et al 1969.

Zajonc 1965-social facilitation and arousal

-put forward the drive theory of social facilitation

-presence of other people increase a person’s general level of arousal- become


more energised/alert- this increases performance of dominate responses

- When arousal is low e.g. sleepy = poor task performance


- Arousal moderate = optimum performance

o Zajonc’s drive theory of social facilitation suggests the presence of


others when performing dominant responses increases arousal to an
optimum level.
Increase Better performance
arousal
Presence of others of a dominant
response

Cottrell 1972- evaluation apprehension

-In presence of others we are concerned that they are evaluating our performance
(judging)

-effect of evaluation apprehension on a simple task/ well-learned = arousal =


performance facilitated

- on new tasks/complicated tasks , it is done better when done alone than when
there is an audience – due to evaluation apprehension
*Bartis et al 1988 – ELAVUATION APPREHENSION

Aim
- to investigate whether or not evaluation apprehension would lead to
improvement in performance on a simple task and inhabitation of performance
on a complex task.

Method

-participants presented with same basic task, which involved thinking of many
different uses of a knife.

-one group asked to list all different uses of a knife that they could think of

-another group had to think of creative uses of the knives

- some participants in each condition were told that their performance would be
identified ( the evaluation apprehension condition)

- other participants in each condition were told that their ideas would be
collected together as a group- but that no individual would be identified.

Results

 Simple tasks: the evaluation apprehension condition:- produced more uses


for a knife than participants in the the condition.

 Complex task: the evaluation apprehension condition:-produced fewer


creative uses for a knife

Conclusion

-Evaluation apprehension increases performance on simple tasks


-Decreases performance on complex tasks
Saunders et al 1978- distraction
Aim
To test the effect of distraction conflict on performance of a task

Method
- Participants presented with either a difficult or simple task t- to perform in the
presence of others

-performing either the same or different task

- hypothesised that a co-actor performing same task as participant would


produce more distraction

- since they would be a source of comparison for the participant’s performance

Results

- high distraction condition: participant performed at a higher level on the


simple tasks
- but produced more errors on complex task

Conclusion

-Evidence in support of the distraction- conflict theory of social facilitation.


Mac Cracken and Stadulis 1985- evaluation apprehension

Result
Presence of audience had no effect on children under 8.

Conclusion
Evaluation apprehension may be something that develops with age.
Evaluation

• recent studies have shown that it is arousal alone which explains social
facilitation
• now thought that both arousal and cognitive processes e.g. attention are
involved.

• May be arousal results from cognitive demands e.g. paying attention to both
task and audience -results in – reduced or narrowed attention to the task

• Wicklund 1975 – self-awareness - proposed that, when in front of other


people- immediate response is to focus on oneself. – this causes the person to
compare how he or she would like to perform ideally with how they actually
perform.

• If there is a significant difference between the ideal and the reality – the
person tries to perform to their ideal.- this works on dominant responses not
non-dominant responses.

• After more than 100 years of study, no psychologist have agreed on one
explanation for social facilitation

• Criticisms of the research:

- audiences in experiments- tend to be passive and simply observe


- real audiences are noisy and judge e.g. theatre, sports stadium

- research has largely ignored personality differences between individuals e.g


Triplett 1898 = found 25% PPs showed worse, not better performance in front of
audience.

- tasks given lack ecological validity