In 1956, Roger Bannister used an inventive strategy to achieve the world's first 4-minute mile. He had two friends pace him, each for one lap, just under the needed pace. Bannister's strategy illustrates social facilitation. This term refers to cases in which individuals improve their performance when they are in the presence of conspecifics (i.e., members of the same species). These conspecifics can be observers, others performing the same activity, or others who just happen to be present. This facilitation, however, occurs only on simple tasks in which the correct response is well learned. In contrast, on complex tasks in which the correct response is not well learned, the presence of conspecifics usually detracts from performance, a phenomenon known as social impairment. The fact that ...

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