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Social support: definition and examples

Social support: definition and examples



How does the presence of people around affect the performance of your work?

Social facilitation refers to the discovery that when someone is around, people sometimes complete their work more efficiently.

This phenomenon has been discovered more than 100 years ago, and researchers have found that this phenomenon will occur under certain circumstances, depending on the type and background of the work.

Key takeaways: social growth

Social facilitation means that when someone is around, people sometimes find that work performance is better.

This concept was first proposed by Norman Triplett in 1898. The psychologist Floyd (Floyd) named it social promotion in 1920.

Whether social boosting occurs depends on the type of task: when people experience the impact of social boosting, they are usually doing simple or familiar tasks. However, social suppression (referred to as a decline in work performance) usually occurs when people are relatively unfamiliar with the job they are performing.

History and origin

In 1898, Norman Triplett published an important article about social growth. He noticed that some cyclists usually perform better when they compete with others than when they practice alone. After reviewing the records of a cycling association, he further confirmed the idea that some athletes performed better than other athletes when they competed in the same field (unpaced rides, which means that they played alone, compared to completion time)


In order to experimentally test whether the existence of others makes people perform more efficiently on tasks, Triplett then conducted a study, which is considered to be one of the earliest experimental social psychology studies. Triplett recruited a group of children and let them spin the scroll as fast as possible. Children need to perform separate tasks and competition tasks separately. Triplett found that of the 40 children, 20 performed better in the competition, 10 performed worse (Triplett explained as the effect of excessive competition), and 10 children did not perform poorly in the competitive state. In other words, Triplett found that people sometimes work faster when accompanied by others, although this does not always happen.



Does social facilitation always happen?

Under the guidance of Triplett's experiment, other researchers have also begun to study the performance of task results in the presence of others (in 1920, Floyd Allport took the lead in using the term social promotion). However, further research on social facilitation led to the opposite conclusion: sometimes social facilitation occurs when others are present, and at other times people perform even worse on certain tasks.

In 1965, psychologist Robert Zajonc proposed a potential solution to the differences in the research of social growth. In reviewing previous research, Zajonc noted that social facilitation usually occurs in skilled behavior. However, for those unfamiliar tasks, people usually perform better when they are alone.

Why is this so? According to Zajonc, the presence of others makes people more likely to enter the state of what is called a dominant response by psychologists (that is, essentially, our subconscious response or default response). For simple tasks, the salient response will become more efficient, so that the society will encourage it to happen. For complex tasks or unfamiliar tasks, the salient response usually cannot give correct feedback, so the presence of others will inhibit our performance on the task.

In essence, when you are doing what you are good at, the presence of others will make you work more efficiently, and society will encourage it. For new tasks or complex tasks, the presence of others can make you perform less well.



Some examples of social empowerment


To give an example in real life related to social facilitation, imagine how the presence of the audience affects the performance of a musician. A talented and award-winning musician will feel the experience of the audience, and the live performance is even better than practicing alone. Then someone who has just learned a new instrument may feel pressured by someone watching the performance. In other words, whether social facilitation occurs depends on how familiar people are with the task. The presence of others will improve the performance of familiar tasks and reduce the effectiveness of unfamiliar tasks.

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