Social Facilitation By Kelsey Lemmon

Social Facilitation is the tendency for individuals to have their performance of a task heightened or diminished by the presence of others. Being surrounded by other people can cause the individual to be more motivated to perform their best and at their highest capacity. However, it can also cause them to perform the task worse than if they were just by themselves. This depends on the individual’s previous confidence in their ability, as well as their personalities.

I found this to be very true with one of my students. I have taught piano for the past three years. For the most part, I have had a good relationship with my students. We get along well, and they are dedicated in practicing and in doing what I ask them. From this teaching experience, two examples come to mind of this phenomenon. The first one is an obvious example, relating to their performance in the end of the year recital. The students who were highly confident in their abilities played their pieces just as well in the recital as they did when it was just them and me in the same room. Those students who struggled and did not have that confidence, performed their pieces even more poorly in the recital than they did in our lessons. The presence of others helped some to really focus and do well, while it majorly impaired others. Second, I had a student who was not good at listening or paying attention during lessons. We had our lessons in an upstairs room where the door would be closed and it was just him and me. However, when the door was open and his brothers and sisters were walking by, he was much more attentive, and much more inclined to perform what I was asking him to do. He would do what he needed only in the presence of others.

These are good examples of social facilitation because they represent the effect that groups have on an individual. The presence of others can serve to some people’s advantage and other’s disadvantage in relation to their ability. I always found it interesting to note that the individuals who did well in the presence of others, had that confidence not only in their piano playing abilities, but in many other aspects of their life as well. I wonder if this concept can be tied to personality, and if that is a factor that plays into this facilitation as well. Those who had practiced hard and knew their pieces did wonderfully, the presence of others only served to make them more focused and determined as well. However, it was very evident that the group affected those with less confidence negatively.

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