When people work in groups to perform a task, individual group members may feel less motivated to contribute, since no one person is held directly responsible for completing the task. The result is that people may not work as hard, or accomplish as much, as they would if they were working alone and their individual output were being measured. This decrease in personal effort, especially on a simple group task, is known as social loafing. While it is not a deliberate behavior, the consequence of social loafing is less personal efficiency when working in groups than when working on one's own.
<-NARRATOR:-> Listen to part of a lecture in a psychology class.
<-MALE PROFESSOR:-> Now, a study was done that illustrated this phenomenon.
In the study people were given an ordinary task that everyone has probably done before-
they were simply asked to peel potatoes.
And to peel as many potatoes as possible in a given amount of time.
OK, so some people worked alone-
and they were told that the number of potatoes they each peeled would be recorded.
Others peeled potatoes together, as part of a group,
and they were told that only the total number of potatoes peeled would be recorded.
So it would be impossible to tell how any one person had done.
Then researchers compared the results of the people who worked alone
and those that worked together to see if there was any difference.
That is, they took the average score of the people working alone
and compared it to the average score of the people working together in a group.
And they did discover a difference.
It turns out that people working as a group
peeled significantly fewer potatoes than people who worked alone.
Using the example from the lecture, explain what social loafing is and how it affects people's behavior.