Effects of Social Facilitation on Individual Performance

Topics: Experiment, Norman Triplett, Basketball Pages: 5 (1517 words) Published: April 10, 2011
The study us experimenters re-conducted was based on Norman Triplett’s study of social facilitation and how social presence or encouragement improves an individual’s speed and consistency in their performance. The experiment was replicated in using several trials for accurate results and was split into two stages: a mental challenge and a physical challenge. The two male and two female participants ranged from ages 15 to 17 years old. For the mental challenge, each participant was pulled aside one at a time to match 22 flashcards as fast as possible by themselves. The results recorded were the times each individual person took to match all 22 cards. Afterwards, each participant was given the same instruction to match the set of 22 flashcards as fast as possible, but this time with another peer present in the room as they offered words of encouragement. For the physical challenge, each participant was given five minutes to make as many shots as they can with a basketball into the basketball hoop by themselves. The results recorded were the number of shots each participant had made into the basketball hoop. Afterwards, each participant was given the same instruction to shoot a basketball into the hoop as many times as possible, but this time with a peer encouraging the player. Our results showed that the average participant’s mental performance increased with the presence of social support by 1:07 as well as an increase in the average participant’s physical performance by 4 basketball shots. These results relate to Triplett’s findings in revealing that social presence affects a person’s performance. With our replication experiment and Triplett’s study, both results suggest that peer presence and encouragement increases performance. Independent Variable – Peer presence

Dependant Variable – Participants’ mental and physical performance Controlled Variable – Participants’ characteristics (age and gender)

There are not one but many different factors that can manipulate a person’s performance. Nineteenth century society considered these different factors and debated on which had the most impact on a human’s performance. Among this society was Norman Triplett, who utilized his bicycling hobby to further explore the psychology behind which factors took a toll on a person’s performance. He found that cyclists had improved race times when practicing with others, unveiling the theory that peer presence acts as a stimulus arousing natural competition and releasing nervous energy. With these findings, Triplett established one of the first facilitation studies in psychology.

Knowing that presence of another person enhances performance, Triplett conducted an experiment in 1898 involving 40 children – instructing them on reeling a fishing rod as fast as they possibly could by themselves then with a partner. The experiment’s results of a faster rate in a social environment maintained that the presence of another person increases performance of another. Triplett explained that humans didn’t have to work together to enhance performances and that it was based on the pure presence of a person.

Various theorists like Robert Zajonc and Michaels contributed to the social facilitation theory. Contrary to Triplett’s experiment, there were some cases where individuals would perform poorly with the presence of another student. Michaels categorized pool players from above average to below average. Pool players that were categorized into above average increased in their self performance. Those who were categorized as below average dropped in performance (Michael, 1982). However, Zanjonc (1965) produced an explanation to this mysterious setback. He was discriminatory between both dominant and nondominant responses. Dominant responses are at the top of a person’s response hierarchy which in turn makes it easier to learn and perform in other behaviors. Nondominant responses are behaviors that are not as likely to be...
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