social Loafing Theory


This theory is experienced by William Latane. In social psychology, it is the phenomenon of a person exerting fewer efforts to achieve a goal when they work in a group that they work alone. In other words, our level of efforts consistently decreases when we work in groups and we do not work hard as we do individually. This has also been seen as one of the main reason behind less production while work done in groups as compared to individuals.

Social loafing: one denies working hard or hiding from others in a group so that he cannot do much.

Rope pulling experiment:-

3D human pulling a rope

The research of Social Loafing began with Rope pulling experiment in 1913 by Max Ringelmann, who found that members of a group tended to exert less effort in pulling a rope than did individual alone.

What does study say:-

  • In this study researcher found, when he asked participants or group of people to pull a rope they did not pull it as hard collectively as they did it individually or alone. He did not define the reason behind this experiment, was it the reason for individual effort or less effort done by a group.
  • In 1974 few researchers named James Graves, Alan Ingham, and colleagues replicated Ringelmann’s experiment using two types of group: one is real group participants in various sizes and another one is Pseudo-groups with only one real participant where only one pretended to pull the rope.
  • In this further study, Ingham proved that communication could not be the only reason behind loosing the game but lack of motivation was also the reason behind that.

Consequences of social loafing:

  • Negative consequences- it can be negative for both the groups or individual. Group dynamic can be affected if few individuals seem less effective in a group.
  • It can break the groups- lack of unity can break the group. There is a need to give equal efforts. For example, if there is a group of 10 people out of which 4 are working and others are doing nothing well so it definitely creates an imbalance in the group.

Cause of social loafing:

  • Group size- larger the group more chances will occur of social loafing.
  • Low level of motivation – an absence of motivation will increase the poor group participation. People avoid participating in group task because of many reasons. For example, a group task gives to an office Few members may not like to participate in the group as they like to work alone in that case motivation factor works. As a leader or a manager, one needs to motivate their group people so that they can give their best and achieve their target.
  • Equity theory: Unequal distribution of work:

Prevention :

  • Set group goals
  • Increase inter group competition
  • Distribute group rewards based on individual members contribution.

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