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Not all members are expected to do the same things or obey precisely the same norms.
The group often has different expectations for different group members. These shared
expectations help to de¬ne individual roles, such as team captain (a formal role) or
newcomer (an informal role) (Levine & Moreland, 1990).

Group members can play different roles in accordance with their seniority. Newcomers
are expected to obey the groupʼs rules and standards of behavior (its norms) and show
that they are committed to being good members (Moreland & Levine, 1989). More-
senior members have “idiosyncratic” credit and can occasionally stray from group norms
(Hollander, 1985). They have proven their worth to the group and have “banked” that
credit. Every now and then, it is all right for them to depart from acceptable behavior
and spend that credit. New members have no such credit. The best chance new members
have of being accepted by a group is to behave in a passive and anxious way.
Social Psychology

What happens when the new members ¬nd that the group does not meet their hopes or
the senior members feel the recruit has not met the groupʼs expectations? The group
may try to take some corrective action by putting pressure on the member to conform.
Groups will spend much time trying to convince someone who does not live up to group
norms to change (Schachter, 1951). If the deviate does not come around, the group then
disowns him or her. The deviate, however, usually bows to group pressure and conforms
to group norms (Levine, 1989).
Deviates are rejected most when they interfere with the functioning of the group
(Kruglanski & Webster, 1991). Imagine an advisor to the launch director at NASA
objecting to the launch of Challenger after the decision had been made. No matter how
persuasive the personʼs objection to the launch, it is very likely that the deviate would
have been told to be silent; he or she would have been interfering with the groupʼs ability
to get the job done. Experimental research has veri¬ed that when a group member dis-
sents from a group decision close to the groupʼs deadline for solving a problem, the
rejector is more likely to be condemned than if the objection is stated earlier (Kruglanski
& Webster, 1991).

How Do Groups In¬‚uence the Behavior
of Individuals?
We have considered why people join groups and what roles individuals play in groups.
Now letʼs consider another question: What effect does being in a group have on indi-
vidual behavior and performance? Does group membership lead to self-enhancement,
as people who join groups seem to believe? Does it have other effects? Some social
psychologists have been particularly interested in investigating this question. They have
looked not just at the effects of membership in true groups but also at the effects of being
evaluated by an audience, of being in an audience, and of being in a crowd.
Recall that groups affect the way we think and act even when we only imagine how
they are going to respond to us. If you practice a speech, just imagining that large audi-
ence in front of you is enough to make you nervous. The actual presence of an audience
affects us even more. But how? Letʼs take a look.

The Effects of an Audience on Performance
Does an audience make you perform better? Or does it make you “choke”? The answer
seems to depend, at least in part, on how good you are at what you are doing. The pres-
ence of others seems to help when the performer is doing something he or she does
social facilitation
well: when the performance is a dominant, well-learned skill, a behavior that is easy or
The performance-enhancing
effect of others on behavior; familiar (Zajonc, 1965). If you are a class-A tennis player, for example, your serve may
generally, simple, well-learned be better when people are watching you. The performance-enhancing effect of an audi-
behavior is facilitated by the ence on your behavior is known as social facilitation. If, however, you are performing
presence of others.
a nondominant skill, one that is not very well learned, then the presence of an audience
social inhibition detracts from your performance. This effect is known as social inhibition.
The performance-detracting The social facilitation effect”the strengthening of a dominant response due to the
effect of an audience or co-
presence of other people”has been demonstrated in a wide range of species, including
actors on behavior; generally,
roaches, ants, chicks, and humans (Zajonc, Heingartner, & Herman, 1969). Humans
complex, not-well-learned
doing a simple task perform better in the presence of others. On a more dif¬cult task,
behaviors are inhibited by the
presence of others. the presence of others inhibits performance.
Chapter 8 Group Processes 287

Why does this happen? How does an audience cause us to perform better or
worse than we do when no one is watching? Psychologists have several alternative

Increased Arousal
Zajonc (1965) argued that a performerʼs effort always increases in the presence of others
due to increased arousal. Increased arousal increases effort; the consequent increased effort
improves performance when the behavior is dominant and impairs performance when the
behavior is nondominant. If you are good at tennis, then increased arousal and, therefore,
increased effort make you play better. If you are not a good tennis player, the increased
arousal and increased effort probably will inhibit your performance (Figure 8.1).

Evaluation Apprehension
An alternative explanation for the effects of an audience on performance centers not so
much on the increased effort that comes from arousal but on the judgments we perceive
others to be making about our performance. A theater audience, for example, does not
simply receive a play passively. Instead, audience members sit in judgment of the actors,
even if they are only armchair critics. The kind of arousal this situation produces is known evaluation apprehension
as evaluation apprehension. Some social scientists believe that evaluation apprehension An explanation for social
facilitation suggesting that
is what causes differences in performance when an audience is present (Figure 8.2).
the presence of others will
Those who favor evaluation apprehension as an explanation of social facilitation and
cause arousal only when they
social inhibition suggest that the presence of others will cause arousal only when they can
can reward or punish the
reward or punish the performer (Geen, 1989). The mere presence of others does not seem performer.
to be suf¬cient to account for social facilitation and social inhibition (Cottrell, 1972). In
one experiment, when the audience was made up of blindfolded or inattentive persons,

Figure 8.1 The arousal
model of social facilitation.
The presence of others
is a source of arousal
and increased effort. This
increase in arousal and
effort facilitates a simple,
well-learned task but
inhibits a complex, not
well-learned task.
Social Psychology

Figure 8.2 The
evaluation apprehension
model of social facilitation.
According to this model,
audience-related arousal
is caused by apprehension
about being evaluated.

social facilitation of performance did not occur. That is, if the audience could not see the
performance, or did not care about it, then evaluation apprehension did not occur, nor did
social facilitation or social inhibition (Cottrell, Wack, Sekerak, & Rittle, 1968).

The Distraction-Con¬‚ict Effect
distraction-con¬‚ict theory Another explanation of the presence-of-others effect is distraction-con¬‚ict theory
A theory of social facilitation (Baron, 1986). According to this theory, arousal results from a con¬‚ict between demands
suggesting that the presence for attention from the task and demands for attention from the audience. There are three
of others is a source of
main points to the theory. First, the presence of other people distracts attention from
distraction that leads to
the task. Our tennis player gets all kinds of attention-demanding cues”rewards and
con¬‚icts in attention between
punishments”from those watching him play. He may be aware of his parents, his ex-
an audience and a task that
affect performance. girlfriend, his tennis coach, an attractive stranger, and his annoying little brother out
there in the crowd. This plays havoc with a mediocre serve. Second, distraction leads
to con¬‚icts in his attention. Our tennis player has just so much attentional capacity. All
of this capacity ought to be focused on throwing the ball in the air and hitting it across
the net. But his attention is also focused on those he knows in the crowd. Third, the
con¬‚ict between these two claims for attention stresses the performer and raises the
arousal level (Figure 8.3).

Group Performance: Conditions That Decrease or Increase
Motivation of Group Members
We have seen that being watched affects how we perform. Letʼs take this a step further
and examine how being a member of a group affects our performance.
We noted earlier that people who join groups do so largely for self-enhancement:
They believe that group membership will improve them in some way. They will become
better speakers, better citizens, better soccer players, better dancers or singers; they will
Chapter 8 Group Processes 289

Figure 8.3 The
distraction-con¬‚ict model
of social facilitation.
According to this model,
the source of arousal
in facilitation situation
is related to the con¬‚ict
between paying attention
to the task and the
audience at the same time.

meet people and expand their social circle; they will make a contribution to a cause, a
political candidate, or society. Does group membership actually lead to improved per-
formance? Or does it detract from individual effort and achievement, giving people the
opportunity to underperform? Both effects have been documented.

Enhanced Performance
Imagine that you are a bicycling enthusiast. Three times a week you ride 20 miles, which
takes you a little over an hour. One day you happen to come on a group of cyclists and
decide to ride along with them. When you look at your time for the 20 miles, you ¬nd
that your time is under 1 hour, a full 10 minutes under your best previous time. How
can you account for your increased speed? Did the other riders simply act as a wind-
shield for you, allowing you to exert less effort and ride faster? Or is there more to this
situation than aerodynamics? Could it be that the mere presence of others somehow
affected your behavior?
This question was asked by Norman Triplett, one of the early ¬gures in social psy-
chology (1898). Triplett, a cycling enthusiast, decided to test a theory that the presence
of other people was suf¬cient to increase performance. He used a laboratory in which
alternative explanations for the improvement in cycling time (e.g., other riders being
a windshield) could be eliminated. He also conducted what is perhaps the ¬rst social
psychological experiment. He had children engage in a simulated race on a miniature
track. Ribbons were attached to ¬shing reels. By winding the reels, the children could
drag ribbons around a miniature racetrack. Triplett had the children perform the task
either alone or in pairs. He found that the children who played the game in the presence
of another child completed the task more quickly than children who played the game
alone. The improved performance of the children and the cyclist when they participate
in a group setting rather than alone gives us some evidence that groups do enhance
individual performance.
Social Psychology

Social Loa¬ng and Free Rides
Is it true that the presence of others is always arousing and that participating in a group
always leads to enhanced individual performance? Perhaps not. In fact, the opposite
may occur. Sometimes when we are in a group situation, we relax our efforts and rely
on others to take up the slack. This effect is called social loa¬ng.
social loa¬ng
The performance-inhibiting Sometimes, people are not more effortful in the presence of others; they, in fact,
effect of working in a may loaf when working with others in groups (Harkins & Szymanski, 1987; Latan©,
group that involves relaxing Williams, & Harkins, 1979; Williams & Karau, 1991). In one experiment, participants
individual effort based on the
were informed that they had to shout as loudly as they could to test the effects of sensory
belief that others will take up
feedback on the ability of groups to produce sound. The researchers compared the noise
the slack.
produced by individuals who thought they were shouting or clapping alone to the noise
they made when they thought they were in a group. If groups did as well as individuals,
then the group production would at least equal the sum of the individual production. But
the research ¬ndings showed that groups did not produce as much noise as the combined
amount of noise individuals made (Latan© et al., 1979). Some group members did not do
as much as they were capable of doing as individuals: They loafed. In some instances,
then, participation of others in the task (e.g., in a tug-of-war game) lowers individual
motivation and reduces performance on the task. Simply put, people sometimes exert
less effort when working on a task in a group context (Harkins & Petty, 1982).
Why should the group reduce individual performance in some cases and enhance
it in others? The nature of the task may encourage social loa¬ng. In a game of tug-of-
war, if you do not pull the rope as hard as you can, who will know or care? If you donʼt
shout as loud as you can, what difference does it make? You cannot accurately assess
your own contribution, nor can other people evaluate how well you are performing. Also,
fatigue increases social loa¬ng. Hoeksema-van Orden and her coworkers had a group
of people work for 20 hours continuously, individually or in a group. These research-
ers found that fatigue increased social loa¬ng in groups, whereas individuals were less
likely to loaf even when fatigued (Hoeksema-van Orden, Galillard, & Buunk, 1998).
Social loa¬ng tends not to occur in very important tasks. However, many of our
everyday tasks are repetitive and dull and are vulnerable to social loa¬ng (Karau &
Williams, 1993).
Regardless of the task, some individuals work harder than others in groups (Kerr,
free riders Group members 1983). Free riders do not do their share of the work. Why not? They are cynical about
who do not do their share of the other members; they think others may be holding back, so they hold back also. People
the work in a group. do not want to be suckers, doing more than their share while others take it easy. Even
if they know that their coworkers are doing their share and are competent, individuals
may look for a free ride (Williams & Karau, 1991).
The larger the group, the more common are social loa¬ng and free riding. It is
harder to determine individual efforts and contributions in big groups. People are likely
to feel more responsible for the outcome in smaller groups (Kerr, 1989). Of course, not
everyone loafs in groups, nor do people loaf in all group situations.

Motivation Gains in Groups: Social Compensation and the Kohler Effect While
social loa¬ng shows that being in a group may decrease some membersʼ motivation to
perform, that is not always the case. What decreases the likelihood of social loa¬ng? It is
less likely to occur if individuals feel that it is important to compensate for other, weaker
group members (Williams & Karau, 1991). When the task is important and motivation to
perform is high, then social compensation”working harder to make up for the weakness
of others”seems to overcome the tendency toward social loa¬ng and free riding.
Chapter 8 Group Processes 291


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