Rutgers University

Project Description

Individual Difference in social facilitation

Project Abstract

Humans are inclined react to a variety of stimuli in our environment, one of the most significant being the presence of another. Whether the presence of another has a facilitative or a detrimental effect on an individual�s performance has been the subject of much debate for over 100 years. Research in the past has focused on task complexity as the moderating variable in social presence paradigms with the differences in performance accounted for by drive, resulting in the dominant response (Zajonc, 1965), evaluation apprehension (Cottrell, 1968), self-awareness (Duval & Wicklund, 1972) and distraction-conflict (Baron, 1986). The hypothesis of this proposal is that task complexity accounts for only part of the variance in performance and what an individual brings to the task in terms of their own unique personality has a significant contribution to both the facilitation and the impairment of performance.
This proposal addresses several issues to test the social facilitation paradigm. The task will be a word pair association task based on Spence et al. (1956), where the participant will recall a non-competitive (simple) word pair list after a learning period and a competitive (complex) word pair list. The task will be �simple� and �complex� on two different levels. The simple task will be learned with two practice trials and will also be inherently simple and the complex task will be a task that is not learned and is inherently more complex. The task will consist of a presence (when an observer is present in the room seated behind the participant) condition and a true alone condition (where the participant is completely alone in the room). This will ensure that there is a true alone condition with no presence in the room. Lastly, the personality variables of extraversion, neuroticism and self-esteem will be analyzed separately to determine if personality factors will account for the variance in performance of the simple and complex task in addition to that attributed by the presence or absence of an observer. This proposal also addresses those with low neuroticism and low extraversion.

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