Social Loafing

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  • A reduction in effort by an individual when asked to perform a task in a group setting rather than individually. The effect of social loafing was observed by Latané, Williams, and Harkins (1979), who found that individuals who were blindfolded and wore headphones worked harder at their task than when they believed that they were working as part of a group. Social loafing can be explained by the principle of diffusion of responsibility. That is, the greater the group size, the less responsibility there is for each individual. As an individual's responsibility decreases, he or she may contribute less to a project, as his or her efforts are less identifiable. Social loafing serves as a theory to explain loss of productivity in a group. For ...

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