Social loafing is an important phenomenon in social
psychology. What is social loafing? Below is a definition of
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 alone.
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 group
cohesiveness on social loafing and social compensation.
Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1,