Skip to main content
Select Source:

Social Facilitation

Social Facilitation

BIBLIOGRAPHY

In 1898 Norman Triplett reported an experiment in which schoolchildren turned a fishing reel under two conditions: first alone and then standing beside a competitor. Triplett claimed that the competitors presence inspired many of his subjects to perform the reel-turning task more quickly. In his 1924 textbook Social Psychology, Floyd Allport offered a behavioral interpretation of Tripletts result. As Allport explained, responses elicited by a nonsocial stimulus can be augmented by a social stimulus. Allport regarded Tripletts finding as evidence of this social facilitation and offered some evidence of his own. In Allports research, college students solved simple multiplication problems and cancelled vowels from English text more quickly when working alongside other students than when alone.

In contemporary usage, the term social facilitation has a broader meaning, referring to any influence of the presence of others on the individual. The others who are present may be doing the same thing as the individual (that is, coacting), or they may simply be observing. Most often, researchers study influences on the individuals performance of a task. Sometimes they find that individuals perform tasks better in the presence of others than when alone, but often they find the opposite: worse task performance when others are present. Both performance improvements and performance degradations are termed social facilitation, as the phrase is currently used.

When does the presence of others benefit task performance and when does it impair task performance? Robert Zajonc offered an answer to this question in 1965. According to Zajonc, the presence of others improves the performance of simple tasks and disrupts the performance of complex tasks. Although subsequent research provided some support for Zajoncs assertion, a large-scale review showed in 1983 that the presence of others impairs complex performances more strongly than it facilitates simple performances (Bond and Titus 1983).

What accounts for these effects? Zajonc proposed an answer to this question too. Zajonc wrote that the presence of others functions as a source of generalized drive, enhancing dominant response tendencies. According to this analysis, the dominant tendency is to give the correct response on simple tasks and to make mistakes on complex tasks. By enhancing these tendencies, the presence of others facilitates simple task performance and impairs complex performance, Zajoncs drive theory claims.

Other theories of social facilitation have been proposed. These note that the presence of others can induce many psychological states, including self-awareness, distraction, and evaluation apprehension. Psychophysiological theories have been proposed. Whereas an older theory claimed that the presence of others increases general arousal (Guerin 1993), Jim Blascovich and colleagues offered a different view in 1999: When others are present, people who are performing simple tasks manifest physiology indicative of challenge; those who are attempting complex tasks manifest physiology indicative of threat.

The presence of others influences more than task performance. It can encourage the display of prejudice. It can increase, and sometimes decrease, how much people eat. It has many effects on animal behavior. A rudimentary form of social influence, social facilitation has captured psychologists attention for more than a century.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Allport, Floyd. 1924. Social Psychology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

Blascovich, Jim, Wendy B. Mendes, and Sarah B. Hunter. 1999. Social Facilitation as Challenge and Threat. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 77: 6877.

Bond, Charles F., Jr., and Linda J. Titus. 1983. Social Facilitation: A Meta-Analysis of 241 Studies. Psychological Bulletin 94: 265292.

Guerin, Bernard. 1993. Social Facilitation. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Zajonc, Robert B. 1965. Social Facilitation. Science 149: 269274.

Charles F. Bond Jr.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Social Facilitation." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Social Facilitation." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/social-facilitation

"Social Facilitation." International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/social-sciences/applied-and-social-sciences-magazines/social-facilitation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

social facilitation

social facilitation Intensification (i.e. facilitation) of a behaviour (e.g. feeding) that is associated with increased population density.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/social-facilitation

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/social-facilitation

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

social facilitation

social facilitation Intensification (i.e. facilitation) of a behaviour (e.g. feeding) that is associated with increased population density.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 25 Feb. 2018 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 25, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/social-facilitation-0

"social facilitation." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved February 25, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/social-facilitation-0

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.