The Developments Of Social Facilitation Psychology Essay

Social facilitation is when “one animal increases or decreases its behaviour in the presence of another animal which does not otherwise interact with it” (Guerin, 1993, p.1). In a sporting context it is the idea that the presence of someone else can either cause an individual’s performance to be facilitated (Travis, 1925) or inhibited (Pressin, 1993).

2.2 What Does Social Facilitation Research Look to Achieve?

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Social facilitation research tries to study the difference between behaviour in a non social setting and behaviour in a social setting (Guerin, 1993). It is true that in real life we rarely perform a task when alone and then again when someone else is present. Social facilitation research is more concerned with “finding out the most basic responses when other people are present than with how often this might occur on real life” (Guerin, 1993, p.2).

2.3 Development of Social Facilitation

The concept of social facilitation formed around the late 19th century and is “one of the oldest social psychological theories in the history of the field” (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001, p.163). The theory of social facilitation came to light when Triplett (1898) observed cyclists in various experimental conditions and discovered that the cyclist performed better in a competitive environment than in an alone condition (Uziel, 2007). This led to new interests in psychology and focused on a new area known as social presence and behaviour and launched a century’s worth of research (Greenier et al., 2001).

2.4 Early Research

Triplett (1898) suggested that the sight or sound of another individual might strengthen the idea of the movement and thereby liberate latent energy and motivate greater effort (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). Early social facilitation studies by Triplett (1898) tended to incorporate the idea of competition. This was an issue as it encouraged the essence of motivation. This meant it was difficult to identify whether the presence of others facilitated the performance or whether it was purely the motivation of the individual. Despite Triplett’s early studies not providing clear evidence of social facilitation, it introduced concepts that were important in the development of the theory during the 20th century (Guerin, 1993).

Allport (1924) developed Triplett’s concept and coined the term social facilitation as” an increase in response merely from the sight or sound of others making the same movement” (p.262). Allport “extended the research to control potentially extraneous variables such as competition” (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001, p.164). He changed his approach towards social presence in comparison to Triplett. He wanted to learn more about basic social influences; this therefore led him to design experiments that removed the concept of competition. Allport’s (1924) experiments used two kinds of mental skills; word association and generation of arguments to a written passage. In various experiments Allport had his participants perform in two conditions. They preformed both alone and in the presence of others. His results revealed that people in group situations performed better on the word association task, however performing worse on the arguments to a written passage. These results suggested that there is a connection between the type of task and the presence of an audience on performance (Platania & Moran, 2001). The main issue with Allport and Triplett’s studies was that the conceptualisation of social facilitation focused on a paradigm of coaction effect and tended to ignore other influences such as audience effects (Grant and Dajee, 2003). There work tested the notion with the participants performing with or against other individuals rather than performing in front of an audience. Allport’s work has also been criticised for lacking theoretical explanation (Platania and Moran, 2001). Despite this Uziel (2007) suggest his research was influential in the development of social facilitation as it demonstrated that there was a phenomenon and that it could be explained using experimental methods.

“Early research into social facilitation demonstrated contradictory findings; sometimes the results shown the presence of others improved performance and sometimes impaired performance” (Greenier et al., 2001, p.20). This was shown for example by Dashiell (1930) who investigated different types of audiences; mere presence, evaluative, non competing coactors and competing coactors. It was found evaluative and competing coactors helped facilitate performance. However, as previously mentioned contradictory findings were found for example, Travis (1928) tested similar conditions to Dashiell in a hand-eye coordination task and found social presence impaired the performance of the individual (Greenier et al., 2001). These inconsistent findings in early research of social facilitation caused the theory to become less reliable as there was no single explanation into the phenomenon of social presence (Greenier et al., 2001). It has been suggested that the inconsistencies between results were likely to be caused by the methods used (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). Guerin (1993) noted that the studies even in the alone conditions had an experimenter within in the room; therefore valid conclusions regarding the effects of presence cannot be drawn from these studies.

2.5 Major Theories in Social Facilitation.

Various theories have evolved explaining the social facilitation effect (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001). Guerin (1993) grouped these explanations into three categories: drive theories, social comparison theories, and cognitive process theories.

The first theory analysed will be the drive theory. Zajonc (1965) adopted Hull-Spence drive theory and applied it to social facilitation. Before Zajonc’s theory came about, social facilitation had become a neglected area (Graydon & Murphy, 1995). Zajonc “provided an explanation that accounted for both facilitated and impaired performance” (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001, p.167).

This theory was a major milestone in social facilitation and his contribution to social psychology was seen as twofold as it provided an explanation for the social facilitation inhibition effects (Uziel, 2007).

Zajonc’s (1965) drive theory in social facilitation proposes mere presence of others produces increments in levels of arousal that are unconditional and automatic. This puts the individual in a state of readiness. This increase in arousal is caused by the presence of others and causes the dominant response (the most likely response given our skills at use) of the individual to be frequently emitted (Platania & Moran, 2001 & Greenier et al., 2001). Zajonc suggested there was a relationship between performance and task complexity. In relation to the drive theory he suggested that if the task was simple then an increase in arousal would cause the performance to be facilitated as the skill is well learnt. However, conversely if the task is complex then an increment in arousal will cause the dominant response (incorrect performance) to be emitted thereby inhibiting the individual’s performance (Bell & Yee, 2001). This theory was supported by the study of Zajonc & Sales (1966). Thirty-nine participants performed a pseudorecognition task by guessing the word that flashed on the screen. The number of dominant responses was greater for participants when working in the presence of an audience than when working in the alone condition. Zajonc suggests the results support the assumption that the mere presence of an audience acted as a source of arousal and, hence, enhanced emission of dominant responses (Platania & Moran, 2001). However, knowing that the participants are being tested on in a controlled environment may actually act as a source of arousal, (white coat syndrome) meaning it is difficult to establish the cause and effect relationship.

Zajonc also applied his theories to different animal species for example it was found that cockroaches navigated a simple walkway faster than a complex maze in the presence of other cockroaches (Zajonc et al., 1969). Zajonc’s model has also been criticised for primarily focusing his research on animal behaviour. It has been argued how can human behaviour be generalised from animal research? (Kushnir, 1981)

Zajonc’s research and theory into social facilitation has been heavily criticised. It’s been suggested that his model is too simplistic and inadequate as the theory over relies on arousal to be the underlying cause for an increase in drive (Silva & Weinberg, 1984). Also it is said that the hypothesis given by Zajonc provides a descriptive framework but lacks a psychological explanation as to why audience presence effects arousal (Kushnir, 1981). Despite these criticisms, Zajonc’s work should not be undermined.

Guerin’s (1993) ideologies of research in social facilitation also consisted of the social comparison theory. The social comparison theory came to light from Cottrell (1972) when disputing Zajonc’s (1965) paradigm in social presence.

Cottrell implied social facilitation will be evident only if the performing organism expects to be evaluated by another individual (Uziel, 2007), meaning induced arousal was due to “evaluation apprehension anxiety;” rather than the mere presence of others. The evaluation apprehension theory was supported by Cottrell et al. (1968) when they blindfolded the audience in order to render them non evaluative. The results were conclusive and found no difference between the audience being blindfolded and in the alone condition suggesting that social facilitation occurs only when the audience is evaluating the organism. Cottrell’s (1972) evaluation apprehension theory was also supported by Sanna and Shotland (1990). During their study participants performed a memory task in two conditions; one condition was in front of an audience and the other condition was performed alone. It was found that participants performed better in the condition when an audience was present; however this was only the case if the participants anticipated positive evaluation from the audience. When the participants anticipated negative evaluation; participants performed the memory task better in the alone condition. These results were what Cottrell would have predicted as negative evaluation apprehension is more likely to increase the anxiousness of the individual (Platania & Moran, 2001).

Despite Cottrell’s paradigm suggesting that only an evaluative audience will facilitate the individual’s performance; Hench and Glass (1968) suggest that a non evaluative audience still has the ability to watch and trigger evaluation apprehension thus leading to an increase in arousal. Therefore it could be suggested that the results gained by Cottrell may be invalid (Greenier et al., 2001).

Due to this limitation, Markus (1978) tried to make a clearer distinction between mere presence and evaluation conditions. In her study participants believed they were taking part in a study that required uniformity. The participants were told to remove their shoes and put on a large lab coat and oversized shoes whilst waiting for other participants to arrive. They did this in one of three conditions: alone, in the presence of an evaluative experimenter, or in the presence of a confederate who was reading a book in the corner of the room to render them as non evaluative. After 10 minutes the participants were told the other members did not show up and were told to get dressed into their own clothes. Markus measured the speed at which they did this. It was found that in both the mere presence and the evaluative conditions the participant performed the simple task (putting on and taking off their own shoes) more quickly than in the alone condition. Conversely they performed the difficult task (putting on and taking off the experimental shoes) slower than they did in the alone condition. Therefore she concluded that the evaluative aspect of audience was not needed to produce social facilitation (Greenier et al., 2001).

Similar results were found by Bond and Titus (1983) when trying to find general themes within research of social facilitation when conducting a Meta-analysis on 241 studies. They concluded evaluation apprehension had little influence on the effects of social presence on performance meaning previous studies have provided results that are “inconsistent and contradictory” (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001, p.168). Despite this development into social facilitation, Greenier et al. (2001) suggest that the task used by Markus itself could have induced arousal as wearing bulky, oversized clothing may have increased the participant’s level of self consciousness or embarrassment meaning the findings shouldn’t be interpreted as supporting the concept of social facilitation.

It is clear to see that the theories of social facilitation present an inconsistent picture of the relationship between audience presence, arousal and the quality of performance (Kushnir, 1981). The development of social facilitation took a step forward during the 1980’s when it began to extend the theoretical focus away from drive or arousal towards more cognitive mechanisms (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001).

The literature review will look to discuss the cognitive process theories as identified by Guerin (1993). Baron (1986) proposes that social facilitation is caused by distraction, suggesting that social presence distracts and creates an attentional conflict for individuals engaged in a task. Baron describes this phenomenon as the distraction conflict theory. Social presence distracts the individual’s attention for various reasons such as social comparison. This attentional distraction conflicts with the individual’s wishes to accomplish the task. It is said the conflict is unavoidable and this causes cognitive overload. This is seen to facilitate the individual’s performance if the task is simple as the distraction is easy to overcome. However if the task is difficult it is said that the performance is inhibited as it is difficult to overcome as the skill requires attention and focus (Uziel, 2007).

The main underlying criticism for all the theories previously discussed, is that each theory only considers one mechanism that affects performance when in the presence of others. The theory has been criticised for its simplicity and ignorance to other factors in social facilitation (Kushnir, 1981). For example, these theories tend to ignore individual differences (Grant & Dajee, 2003). “In fact, only 5-7% of studies in social facilitation have measured individual differences” (Uziel, 2007, p.584).

The literature review will consider the personality aspect of individual differences. Personality is a largely under-considered factor when researching social facilitation (Grant & Dajee, 2003). Wankel (1975) suggested that personality may exert a key influence on performance in audience conditions. However, this hypothesis has not been tested very well due to the lack of research in this area.

Eysenck’s (1967) personality theory saw personality being split into various categories. However the main categories amongst others are introverts and extroverts. Extroverts are seen to portray behavioural characteristics like confidence, outgoing and demonstrating spontaneity where as the opposite is seen to be apparent for introverts (Graydon & Murphy, 1995). It is seen introverts and extroverts have different resting levels of cortical arousal that is mediated by the reticular activating system. Extroverts are under aroused and seek situations (“stimulus hungry”) that are stimulating in order to increase arousal. Introverts, in comparison, are already optimally aroused so they avoid stimulation in order to ensure they do not go over the optimum level (McKelvie et al., 2003). Current studies into personality have only researched what sports extroverts and introverts are suited to and the difference in personalities between athletes and non athletes.

This phenomenon can be explained by the gravitational hypothesis. This hypothesis implies that there are pre existing differences that draw participants into different sports (McKelvie et al., 2003). This hypothesis suggests that high sensation seekers engage in riskier sports to satisfy their needs for new experiences and vice versa in the case of introverts (McKelvie et al., 2003). So in the case of the present study the gravitational hypothesis would suggest that as golf is an individual sport and is low in stimulation, it will tend to attract introverts as this task will not cause their cortical arousal levels to increase over the optimum level. However this seems an unlikely case as in golf there are individuals who portray different personality types, for example Tiger Woods may been seen to be and introvert where as Ian Poulter could be seen to be an extrovert.

There has been very little research into the paradigm of personality and social facilitation (Graydon & Murphy, 1995). The one of few studies that has tested the personality of the individual in relation to social facilitation is Graydon & Murphy (1995). It was hypothesised that the audience would provide comfortable conditions for the extrovert this causing their performance to be enhanced. Conversely, introverts performance will be inhibited as the presence of others would provide too much stimulation. Over stimulation will occur due to their interpretation of the situation causing an increase in arousal. Graydon & Murphy (1995) aimed to test this notion in a sport relevant setting. From fifty participants; ten classified introvert and ten classified extrovert participants were selected using Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI – Eysenck & Eysenck, 1964). There were two conditions in the study: Presence of an audience and alone condition. Each performer had to perform a series of table tennis serves in both conditions. In the alone condition a scorer was present who was unknown to the individual. The audience condition consisted of twelve noisy peers and were instructed to be distracting and confounding. The results gained suggested the hypothesis could be retained. It was found that extrovert performances were facilitated in the presence of an audience and that the introverts were inhibited in the same condition and vice versa for the alone condition. These results were crucial for the development of social facilitation as it suggests that there is a link between personality, presence of an audience and the facilitation of performance (Grant & Dajee, 2003).

However, despite these influential findings, Graydon & Murphy (1995) have received considerable criticism of their study. The study has been criticised for heavily favouring the extroverted participants. It is suggested that, as the study used noisy peers, the condition fed the “stimulus hungry” extroverts. This weakness in the design of the study could have also caused the inhibition of the introverts’ performance; as this could have led them to become overwhelmed causing a sense of distraction. As the study used a noisy audience it can be suggested the study did not test the mere presence of an audience. It is questionable to whether the noise of the audience or the personality of the individual caused the social facilitation inhibition effects on performance (Graydon & Murphy, 1995). The study has also been criticised for using peers in the audience condition. Brown & Garland (1971) identified the effects of liked peers may cause the likelihood of enhancing performance. So in relation to Graydon & Murphy’s (1995) study, again it could be questionable to whether personality was the real cause of facilitation. The validity and reliability of the study has also been in question due to a small sample size. But also the alone condition containing the experimenter could also be seen to be less valid as it could be argued that one person constitutes an audience and therefore possibly affecting the results (Guerin, 1993).

2.6 Literature Summary

In summary, it is clear from assessing the relevant literature surrounding the area of social facilitation that, despite a large body of research being generated, no single theory has emerged that can “effectively and parsimoniously account for the phenomenon of social facilitation inhibition effects on performance” (Aiello & Douthitt, 2001, p.168). It is noticeable that there are contradictory theories and findings throughout. However, analysing the literature around this topic it is clear that key areas within social facilitation, (i.e. personality) have not been efficiently researched. Conducting the literature review has helped highlight new areas and issues that can be explored and further developed. It has highlighted no social facilitation research has been conducted in the sport and golf. It was also decided to conduct the present study in golf as when reading commentary and watching interviews from professional golfers for example, in the Ryder Cup they always seem to mention 1st tee nerves and the effects of a crowd. This is supported by Dirs (2008) when suggesting that American golfer Chad Campbell hit a bad tee shot off the first tee in the 2008 Ryder Cup due to his nerves.

3.0 Aims and Expectations

Following consideration of previous research and identifying new lines of inquiries into research of social facilitation, this study aimed toaˆ¦

Test how both introvert and extrovert category one golfers’ performances are affected when performing a learned task in three conditions: alone, mere presence of an audience (non evaluative) and presence of a quiet audience.

Expand current knowledge in the field of social facilitation, particularly identifying whether individual differences such as personality have an impact on social facilitation and performance.

As the study is a deductive study it will aim to test a formulated experimental hypothesis based on knowledge of previous theories and studies (Karami, 2007).

3.1 Main Research Question

How does the personality of a category one golfer affect the success rate of putts in relation to the presence of an audience?

3.2 H1 Experimental Hypothesis – One Tailed

“Extrovert golfers will hole more 10 foot putts in relation to introvert golfers when in the mere presence of an audience and when in the presence of an evaluative audience, the success rate will therefore be lower in the alone condition.”

H0 Null Hypothesis

“There will be no significant difference in the amount of putts holed between introvert and extrovert golfers in any of the three conditions.”

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