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Social Facilitation Essay

1636 words - 7 pages

The concept of social facilitation is that having an audience affects our performance. Zajonc defined social facilitation as ‘The consequences upon behaviour, which derive from the sheer presence of other individuals’.
Moran, (2004) describes social facilitation as ‘the improvement in peoples performance that can occur as a result of being part of a group or being observed by other people’
The reason for this increase in performance is because we naturally become aroused in the presence of an audience. These increases occur because of an increase in social monitoring, evaluation apprehension, and attentional conflict. Jones (piece of paper)
Arousal levels create an influence on ...view middle of the document...

Using the Inverted U Hypothesis psychologists will look to determine how fine the motor skills required for particular sport are, they will then seek to optimise the arousal levels of competitors in that sport, therefore they would recommend relaxation procedures to lower arousal sports such as Darts and Snooker and recommend high arousal (psyching up) for Weightlifters and Rugby Players. The Inverted U Hypothesis can also explain why expert performers sometimes make errors under pressure, Jarvis (1999).

Catastrophe Theory

The Catastrophe Theory rejects the assumption of the Inverted U Hypothesis. Fazey and Hardy (1988) pointed out that when the athlete is experiencing high cognitive anxiety then a small increase in arousal beyond the optimum level can bring about a massive fall in performance. Under conditions of low cognitive anxiety, the Inverted U Hypothesis holds true. However, when cognitive anxiety is high then there comes a point just above the optimum level of arousal where performance drops off drastically, this is a catastrophe (Jarvis).

Zone of Optimal Functioning
This theory suggests that instead of a general relationship between anxiety and performance each athlete has their own preferred level of anxiety and that there performance would suffer if their anxiety went below or above their preferred level. The athletes preferred anxiety level is known as their zone of optimal functioning. In general athletes competing in team sports have a lower ZOF then competitors in individual events Randal and Weinberg (1997). The ZOF approach has clear applications for athletes because by knowing your own ideal level of anxiety for competition, you can monitor your current level and decide whether you need to relax or get more psyched up Jarvis (1999).

Kremmer (1994) states that ‘through hundreds of human and animal studies of social facilitation, both in field and the laboratory, the results have been generally consistent and found that it is generally true that the presence of others will improve performance on certain tasks, such as specific tasks which call for well learnt dominant responses’. In other words, if you can do something well, the presence of others will improve performance. On the other hand, Kremmer (1994) suggests ‘if you are incompetent, learning a skill or attempting something for the first time, then you may perform worse in company than alone’.
Michaels et al, (1982) conducted a field experiment to determine the effects of social facilitation, this involved men shooting pool in an American pool hall, initially a sample of players were secretly rated as being of above or below average ability, on the basis of the percentage of their shots which where successful. Subsequently, groups of four researchers came and stood by the tables, as if casually watching the game. In the presence of these spectators, above average players increased their shot accuracy from 71 to 80 per cent, the below average players slipped...

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