The Psychology of Social Loafing In Group Settings?

The Psychology of Social Loafing In Group Settings?

happy friends group

The term social loafing refers to the tendency of people where individuals exert minimum effort on a group task in comparison to working alone. In group tasks, since the contribution of every single individual is clubbed into a group outcome, it becomes difficult to trace the exact contribution of a certain individual. Since it occurs commonly, it doesn’t happen always and it is one of the reasons why a group works ineffectively. Hence, steps can be taken to encourage people to put in more effort while working with a group or on group projects, French social psychologist Max Ringelmann was the first person to observe this phenomenon.

He conducted an experiment and asked groups of people to pull a rope. It resulted that as the group size increased, the total amount of force exerted decreased. This decrease in force was due to social loafing. When everyone doesn’t give full the amount of effort required to a part of the group productivity of the task decreases.

There are a number of factors that contribute to social loafing.
Diffusion of responsibility:

Working in a group, people feel less responsible for the outcome of the respective allowed task in comparison to the work and responsibility they would feel while working alone.

Evaluation apprehension:

Some members of the group are afraid of being negatively judged by their group members, so they tend to put less effort into the task, especially when they are not sure how their performance will be assessed in comparison to their group members.

Minimizing Free Riding:

Minimizing free riding is an essential step that can be used to decrease social loafing. situations in which group members put less effort as they perceive that others will substitute for them when group members are not able to free ride, social loafing decreases as group members feel more responsible for the outcome of the task allotted.

Other than this, factors included performance assessment of colleagues and co-workers, relevancy of the task allotted, and culture.
Social loafing also impacts negatively by reducing the productivity of groups and leading to poor performance. It also disbalances the working environment and converts it into an environment of resentment among group members, as those putting more effort feel dissatisfied and being taken advantage of Reduce social loafing.

  • Each member is individually responsible for their performance. Clear-cut goals and experience needed to be set up and a system of providing feedback to each group member should be added.
  • Create a sense of cooperation within groups by starting a positive group culture, and encouraging members to work towards a common goal.
  • It is also important to create a supportive and positive environment for group tasks. Providing resources they need, helping and guiding them to overcome challenges.
Reduce social loafing in different settings:
In the workplace:
  • Supervisors can track their progress by allotting individual tasks to each group member, and then provide feedback.
  • Supervisors can create a system of rewards and punishments.
  • Supervisors should create a positive and supportive work environment to make employees feel comfortable in asking for help and sharing better ideas.
Also, In the classroom:
  • Teachers should assign individual tasks to students and then give grades individually.
  • Teachers should create group projects where each student is in charge of a specific part of the project.
  • Teachers can create a positive classroom environment where students feel comfortable working together and helping each other learn.
In other domains and areas:
  • Coaches should track their progress assign individual drills and exercises to athletes and lastly provide feedback.
  • Club leaders should track their progress by assigning individual tasks to members and then providing feedback.
  • Volunteer coordinators should track their progress, assign individual tasks to volunteers, and provide feedback.

One can help reduce social loafing and improve the performance of groups in all different domains

  • A unique and important role: Ensure that everyone feels responsible for the result of the task.
  • Goals and expectations: Ensure that everyone is working towards a common goal
  • Regular feedback: Help them to identify areas that require improvement and stay motivated.
  • Positive and supportive culture: Encourage group members to help each other and support.
  • Achievement: Highlights the achievement and success of individual members
Overcome with Social loafing
  • Be aware of your own tendencies and then start developing strategies to overcome them.
  • Focus on your personal goal, be motivated, and don’t get affected even if other members are not putting in much effort.
  • Take leadership goals, and encourage other members of the group to put in their best effort
  • Be patient: To overcome social loafing requires time. Don’t expect to see the change overnight, keep working at your level best.

Read More Articles:

Leave feedback about this

  • Rating