This semester, besides the Social Psychology class, I also took the Experimental Method and Statistics in Bryn Mawr, as it was one of the major requirement courses. Since it was a really big class, therefore we had about 15 people in each lab sessions. One of the assignments we had to finish as a whole group was that we needed to actually run an experiment and then report the whole process and results to the class together. We wre divided into 2 groups: one was the replication group that took charge in doing a same experiment as in the study we picked; the other one was the extension group, which proposed a new hypothesis related to the original one and designed a new experiment to test the hypothesis. I was one of the 8 people who were in the extension group. After the TA told us the process of doing the tasks, we simply created a Google doc in the end of our lab so that everyone could edit and work together on our project. However, things didn’t go on very smoothly. Everyone including me seemed to procrastinate on our work, and the Google doc even left blank several hours before our deadline. In our next lab, the TA told us that professor of this class would grade our presentation of the project based on our evaluation of each other. Once being told this piece of information, everyone seemed to become dedicated to the work, and we finished our second draft on the Google doc right after we came back from the lab.
To see this change from a psychology perspective, we can see how social loafing works here. Social loafing refers to tendency that individuals put less effort when putting into a group, and the more people in the group, the less effort everyone would like to contribute. In this example, since we had 8 people in one group and we worked together on one document instead of assigning part of the work to each one, everyone might think like “I didn’t need to put much effort in it, other group members would do more”. As a result, efficiency of the group was decreased. However, we have learned in class that one of the methods to combat social loafing was to create personal accountability. Just as shown in the example, when we were told that our grade would be based on evaluation of other group members, we knew that if we didn’t take responsibility to this project, we would be rated low and finally affected the final grade. Therefore, everyone in the group became high-efficiency and dedicated to this project.
Though we now finish our project successfully, we experienced a tough time of doing work overnight because of our inefficiency at first. If we could realize the occurrence of social loafing and the methods to deal with it, it wouldn’t be that tough in the end. For example, if we could assign part of the work to each other instead of working together, since each one took responsibility of their part, social loafing would decrease. Moreover, if we could divide our 8 people group into smaller group like group of 2, because of the small group size, social loafing could also be reduced.