Social Loafing

Suppose that you and several other people are helping to push a stalled truck. Some people will push hard to push a truck. Others will push moderately. Some may hang on and pretend to be pushing when they are not. This is a demonstration of Social Loafing.

Social loafing is the manifestation of reduced motivation and effort that occur when individuals work collectively in a group compared to when they work individually as independent co-actors. Social psychologists refer to such effects as ‘social loafing’ .

Findings on social loafing

Social loafing has been demonstrated in many experiments. The effects appear among both genders and children as well as adults. Women may be slightly less likely to show this effect than men, perhaps because they tend to be higher than men in concerns for others’ welfare. Social loafing effects do not seem to occur in collectivistic cultures, such as those in many Asian countries. In such cultures, people seem to work harder when in groups then they do when alone. In fact, in such cultures people work harder in groups than they do by themselves. In Asian countries the collective good is more highly valued than individual accomplishment or achievement. The study concludes that social loafing appears to be a pervasive fact of social life.

Reducing Social Loafing

The first and most obvious way of reducing social loafing involve making the output or effort of each participant readily identifiable. Group members’ commitment to task performance can also reduce social loafers. Social loafing can be reduced by increasing the apparent importance and value of the task, they add. Together, these steps can reduce social loafing – and the temptation to goof at the expense of others.

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