Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 11
Competition/psychological theories: Norman Triplett (Triplett 1898)(1) found out, that the presence of other people affects us as individuals. A competitor [or an audience] might lead most individuals to try harder and exert more effort than they would when working alone.
Def Social facilitation/Karau/Williams: Social facilitation refers to a tendency for the presence of other people (as co-actors or observers) to enhance our performance on simple or well-learned tasks, but to reduce it on complex or unfamiliar tasks (Geen, 1991(2); Zajonc, 1965(3)).
Def Social loafing/Karau/Williams: refers to a tendency for individuals to reduce their efforts when working with others on group or collective tasks (Latané et al., 1979(4)). Over time, many hundreds of studies have been conducted on social facilitation and social loafing, and a host of theories have been proposed to explain how and why various group and social factors affect individual effort and motivation (Bond and Titus, 1983(5); Karau and Williams, 1993(6)). Triplett’s work is also frequently recognized as seminal to the development of sports psychology (Davis et al., 1995(7)). >Competition/Triplett.



1. Triplett, N. (1898) ‘The dynamogenic factors in pacemaking and competition’, American Journal of Psychology, 9: 507–33.
2. Geen, R.G. (1991) ‘Social motivation’, Annual Review of Psychology, 42: 377–99.
3. Zajonc, R.B. (1965) ‘Social facilitation’, Science, 149: 269–74.
4. Latané, B., Williams, K.D. and Harkins, S.G. (1979) ‘Many hands make light the work: The causes and consequences of social loafing’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37: 822–32.
5. Bond, C.F. and Titus, T.J. (1983) ‘Social facilitation: A meta-analysis of 241 studies’, Psychological Bulletin, 94: 265–92.
6. Karau, S.J. and Williams, K.D. (1993) ‘Social loafing: A meta-analytic review and theoretical integration’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 65: 681–706.
7. Davis, S.F., Huss, M.T. and Becker, A.H. (1995) ‘Norman Triplett and the dawning of sport psychology’, The Sport Psychologist, 9: 366–75.


Steven J. Karau and Kipling D. Williams, “Social Facilitation and Social Loafing. Revisiting Triplett’s competition studies”, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Psychological Theories
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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