Social Facilitation

Topic: How The Presence Of Others Affects Individual Behavior

Social facilitation refers to the tendency for people to do better on simple tasks when in the presence of other people.

Social facilitation is defined as improvement in individual performance when working with other people rather than alone, the opposite of social loafing. In addition to working together with other people, social facilitation also occurs in the presence of other people, and is most likely to occur for manageable tasks.

There are three major approaches to social facilitation: activation, evaluation, and attention. The activation theory describes how our arousal relates to social facilitation. The evaluation theory discusses how being assessed by an audience affects social facilitation. The attention theory takes into account the effect of distractions in the environment on social facilitation.

The Yerkes-Dodson law, when applied to social facilitation, states that “the mere presence of other people will enhance the performance in speed and accuracy of well-practised tasks, but will degrade in the performance of less familiar tasks.” When compared to a person’s performance alone, the individual will perform better on simple or well-rehearsed tasks and worse on complex or new ones in the presence of others.


Practice Questions


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MCAT Official Prep (AAMC)

Online Flashcards Psychology Question 15


Key Points

• Social facilitation is defined as improvement in individual performance when working with other people rather than alone.

• The activation theory describes how our arousal relates to social facilitation.

• The evaluation theory discusses how being assessed by an audience affects social facilitation.

• The attention theory takes into account the effect of distractions in the environment on social facilitation.

• Yerkes-Dodson law: an individual will perform better on simple or well-rehearsed tasks and worse on complex or new ones when in the presence of others.


Key Terms

social facilitation: improvement in individual performance when working with other people rather than alone.

Yerkes-Dodson Law: the mere presence of other people will enhance the performance in speed and accuracy of well-practised tasks, but will degrade in the performance of less familiar tasks.

social loafing: the tendency for people to put forth less effort when working on a group task if the individual contributions aren’t evaluated.



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