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Social Compensation

  • By: Kipling D. Williams, Zhansheng Chen & Eric D. Wesselmann
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

Social compensation refers to the phenomenon that individuals increase their effort on a collective task (compared with how hard they try when working individually) to compensate for the anticipated poor performance of other group members. People are more likely to compensate when they think their coworkers are not going to perform well and when the outcomes of the group performance are perceived to be important.

Background and History

Many of life's most important tasks can be accomplished only in groups, and many group tasks require the pooling of individual members' inputs. Government task forces, sports teams, organizational committees, juries, and quality control teams are good examples of groups that combine individual efforts to form a single product. Social psychologists have always been interested in whether individual motivation, ...

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