The Impact of the Presence of Others on Performance

4 April 2015
An examination of how the presence of others may impact behavior and performance

This paper examines how the presence of others affects our performance and behavior. The author argues that the presence of others effects simple/practiced tasks and complex ones differently. Included is an analysis of group consensus and conformity, social impact theory, and a look at possible outcomes such as: diffusion of responsibility and pluralistic ignorance.

From the paper:

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“Our behavior is influenced in many ways by the actions, views and mere presence of those around us. Many studies in Social Psychology have been carried out on how this influence effects us and how much. It seems that the presence of an audience is beneficial only when the task at hand is simple or well practiced. If not, the audience causes performance to get worse. When acting as part of a group, individuals tend to conform to a common group consensus. This is especially the case when such a consensus in unanimous. However, minorities do have the ability to change group norms or perceptions. Individuals are less likely to help those who maybe in trouble when there are other potential helpers around. This is mainly due to pluralistic ignorance and diffusion of responsibility. Social impact theory states that the level of influence on an individual depends on the number, status and proximity of the observers as well as on whether he is acting alone or with others.”

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