Social Interaction



Social Interaction

People deal with each other every day. This interaction is at the heart of social life. The study of social interaction is concerned with the influence people have over one another’s behavior. People take each other into account in their daily behavior and in fact, the very presence of others can affect behavior. For example, one principle of social interaction, audience effects, suggests that individuals’ work is affected by their knowledge that they are visible to others, that the presence of others tends to alter the way people behave or perform an activity.

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    <-NARRATOR:-> Now listen to part of a talk in a sociology class. The professor is discussing audience effects.
    <-MALE PROFESSOR:-> OK, so we said that the way we interact with others has an impact on our behavior...
    In fact, there's some interesting research to suggest that in one type of interaction—when we're being observed specifically, when we know we're being watched as we perform some activity—we tend to increase the speed at which we perform that activity.
    In one study, college students were asked to each put on a pair of shoes—shoes with laces they would have to tie.
    Now one group of students was told that they would be observed.
    The second group, however, didn't know they were being observed.
    The students who were aware that they were being watched actually tied their shoes much faster than the students who thought they were alone.
    Other studies confirm the same is true even when we're learning new activities.
    Let's say someone is learning a new task—for example, learning how to type.
    When they're conscious of being observed, they'll likely begin typing at a much faster rate than they would if they were alone.
    But, and this is interesting, the study also showed that certain common behavior— things people typically do, like ...making mistakes when you're learning something new that behavior pattern will also increase.
    So in other words, when we're learning to type, and we know we're being watched, we'll type faster but we'll also make more mistakes.


Explain how the examples of tying shoes and learning to type demonstrate the principle of audience effects.


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