Social loafing is an important phenomenon in social
psychology. What is social loafing? Below is a definition
of social loafing:
Social Loafing Definition
Social loafing is the phenomenon in which people exert
less effort when working collectively on a task.
Social Loafing Examples
There are many possible examples of social loafing.
Below are two social loafing examples:
Some students have the task of working collectively on a
paper for a course. They will receive one grade for the
paper. Some students in the class do not make much of an
effort working on the group paper even though they made
an effort on other assignments in which they worked alone.
Employees of a company are part of a committee to write
a new employee manual. During a committee meeting,
some of the employees did not make much of an effort
and had few suggestions. These employees had made a
much greater effort on other tasks in which they worked
Social Loafing Does Not Always Occur
It is important to keep in mind that social loafing does not
always occur. For example, Karau and Williams (1997)
found that social loafing did not occur for a cohesive
group. Moreover, the findings of their second study
suggest that people may actually make a greater effort
when working with coworkers who are low in ability (a
social compensation effect).
Karau, S. J., & Williams, K. D. (1997). The effects of
cohesiveness on social loafing and social compensation.
Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1,
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