Organizing and implementing a group is never an easy task and can be intimidating; however, it is an important skill to have for most professions. This is why I wanted to talk about a f="/Social P sychology">social psychology phenomenon called:

Social Loafing:

Social loafing is when motivation and effort decreases when people work together in a group. I am sure some of you have experienced this. You get a group of people together, ask them to provide their opinions on something and they just stare at you in silence like your an alien from another planet. Whereas, five minutes ago when you asked individuals to contribute they showed enthusiasm and excitement.

Remember that project in high school, college or university where you worked with four other people but really only two people did all the work? That is also social loafing.

Social loafing is more likely to occur when members of the group work together on a single group tasks or project. Some members will work really hard on the project while others may goof off. Why is this?

Karau and Williams (1993) proposed a theory: The Collective Effort Model (CEM)

When people work together in a group, as opposed to working alone, the link between their effort and outcomes is weakened.

There is also the Expectancy-Valency Theory

People will work hard on a task only if:

  1. Expectancy: working hard = better performance
  2. Instrumentality: performance = recognition and reward
  3. Valence: rewards = things they value and desire

So how do you reduce social loafing when running a group or group activity?

  • Make the group size small; if it's a large group divide the group into smaller groups
  • Make the tasks interesting, something the members internally value and desire--make it intrinsically motivating
  • Have the memebers work with other members they like and respect. Note this is not always possible, so it's good to build group cohesion through doing ice breaker activities or other activities that will build trust and acceptance
  • Highlight the uniqueness and importance of their individual contributions and make it identifiable
  • Assign individual tasks within the group that contributes to the project or group session. Make it so that the project needs all the individual parts to be successful

For your next group session apply these techniques and see if your group members are more willing to be involved in the process.