Social Facilitation Of Complex Tasks: A Comparison Of Zajonc's Drive Theory And Cottrell's Evaluation Apprehension Theory

2312 words - 10 pages

Running head: SOCIAL FACILTATION OF COMPLEX TASKSSocial Facilitation of Complex Tasks: A Comparison of Zajonc's Drive Theory and Cottrell's Evaluation-Apprehension TheoryAbstractZajonc (1965) describes Drive Theory as the increase in levels of arousal in the presence of others which enhances the frequency of dominant behaviours. The aim of this experiment was to challenge Zajonc's theory. This study encompassed ten University students and ten teachers and examined the effect of an Attentive Audience condition compared to Mere Presence condition on the performance of a complex word task. No significant difference was found between both conditions in the mean number of words obtained. This ...view middle of the document...

A number of researchers have contributed to the concept of Mere Presence. Markus (1978) analysed and criticized Mere Presence methodology. She suggests employing a clearer definition of Mere Presence standards. For example when employing simple and complex tasks, it is important to prevent eliciting spontaneous evaluation in the participant and to ensure that subjects are phenomenologically (appear to be) alone. Markus (1978) and Schmitt et. al. (1986) based research on participants completing well learned (simple) and unfamiliar (complex) tasks that involved the exchange of garments in the presence of experimental confederates. Both researchers set up the condition in the same manner, with the exception that Schmitt's confederate was blindfolded and wearing headphones. Both found support for the Mere Presence hypothesis. Schmitt et. al. clearly defined Mere Presence by applying measures that assured theoretical consistency - the confederate was blindfolded and wearing headphones, and observation occurred through a one-way mirror. Schmitt et. al. used these research methodologies to isolate sources of arousal produced by the Mere Presence of another from those produced by evaluation. Markus's study showed that the Mere Presence condition produced a more consistent effect compared to the Attentive Presence condition. She suggests that some Attentive Presence conditions are influenced by other social stimuli for example, body image (Markus, 1978, p. 394). This was also reinforced by Schmitt et. al.Opposing the concept of Mere Presence is Cottrell's Evaluation Apprehension Model. Cottrell's (1968) model questioned the validity of Mere Presence as a source of arousal. In Cottrell's Attentive Condition involved two associates being present, watching individuals perform a verbal habits (difficult) task. From this study Cottrell (1968) proposed that the particular arousal produced by an audience is based on what we believe others think of us. The Evaluation Apprehension Model suggests that individuals have ingrained reward and punishment responses to social presence and that these responses are what produce arousal. Sanna (1992) supports Contrell's Evaluation Apprehension Model. He defined three key sources of evaluation: experimenter evaluation, co-worker evaluation and self-evaluation. Sanna (1992), and Buckingham and Alicke (2002), highlight the importance of Attentive Presence on producing an evaluation response. They go as far as to suggest that self-evaluation is greater with the Attentive Presence of others. This was also supported by Seidel, Stasser and Collier's (1998) study of Action Identification theory and evaluation effects on individuals' performance. Their analysis of difficult coding tasks performed under varying degrees of scrutiny resulted in performance decrease in the high-evaluation condition.The present study attempts to investigate the effects of an attentive audience on the performance of a complex word task. The hypothesis is...

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