Working in groups is essential in the business world and in general many of the tasks that humans face cannot be accomplished alone. Although group projects are essential, they can harbor difficulties in communication, time management, coordination and other aspects. One phenomenon that can occur while working in groups is called social loafing. It is the conscious or unconscious decrease in exerted effort in group settings due to the decrease in social awareness. These individuals may exert much more effort when working by themselves but when in a group setting they feel less of a need to do so. Social loafing is a complex physiological subject that is very prevalent in group settings. Social loafing is caused by task interdependence, task visibility, and group size. Although it can be detrimental to the group, there are different tactics to help prevent and cure social loafing.
Social loafing is the tendency to reduce individual effort when working in groups compared to the individual effort used when working alone. It is similar to ‘free riding’, a concept in which an individual does not bear a proportional amounts of work but shares all of the benefits of the group. Many studies conclude that individuals frequently exert less effort on collective tasks. An early example done in 1913 by a German researcher tested the size of a team verses the effort expended. He had teams do a rope pulling experiment and noted that was the number of group members increased, there was a decrease in overall performance.
Social loafing is caused by a few different psychological tendencies. The first is called task interdependence. This is the degree of task-driven interaction among group members. If individuals perceive their tasks as more interdependent, they may find it difficult to feel a sense of personal achievement in their work. They may withhold their effort when conditions do now allow them to exhibit their accomplishments. With high task interdependence,...
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