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How the Presence of Others Affects Individual Behavior

Individual behavior can change when a person is in the presence of others or is being watched. This principle is determined by certain actions based on social acceptance. This concept is important because being observed can enforce good behaviors (e.g., complying with the law) or improve an individual's performance. However, there are also negative social impacts, such as individuals becoming less self-aware, taking less personal responsibility, or not offering help.

Last updated: Sep 1, 2022

Editorial responsibility: Stanley Oiseth, Lindsay Jones, Evelin Maza

Social Facilitation

Social facilitation, also known as the audience effect, refers to the idea that an individual’s performance of a task improves in the presence of others (or while being watched). Conversely, this theory also states that if the task is more complex, or if the individual has no experience with it, then there will be decreased performance and more chances for error Error Refers to any act of commission (doing something wrong) or omission (failing to do something right) that exposes patients to potentially hazardous situations. Disclosure of Information. This concept is known as the Yerkes-Dodson law. The 3 theories of social facilitation are the activation theory, the evaluation approach, and the self-presentation approach. These theories are described below.

Activation theory

According to the activation theory, the individual becomes active in the presence of others, allowing for the performance of previously rehearsed tasks. Several hypotheses have been tested under this theory, including alertness, monitoring, and challenge.

Evaluation approach

The evaluation approach suggests that individual performance improves not merely because an audience is present, but also because the audience will evaluate that performance.

Self-presentation approach

The presenter is aware that a negative evaluation may occur when an audience is present; therefore, the presenter becomes stimulated to improve performance. Similarly, the individual may have a simple task that they are confident in performing and thus relies on internal motivation rather than on arousal for good performance.

De-individuation

De-individuation refers to a psychological state in which a person has reduced self-awareness, leading to deviant and uninhibited behavior. A person in a crowd feels anonymous and may engage in actions they would not normally take when they are alone and easily identifiable.

Ideal contributing factors:

  • Group size—get lost in the crowd
  • Physical anonymity—use of masks, costumes, face paint
  • Arousing activities—may lead to an escalation

This theory can be applied to violent crowds and even genocide. In a large group of people, a person assumes the identity of that group; in such a case, personal identity is lost, leading to the person performing deviant actions that they would not do when alone. Also, individuals may feel a sense of reduced responsibility for their actions because others are involved in it.

Research Research Critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws. Conflict of Interest by Diener et al AL Amyloidosis. noted that people in large, anonymous groups were 3 times more likely to steal candy.

De-individuation usually results in actions that lead to negative effects and consequences, but it can also lead to positive outcomes such as meditation and hobbies.

Bystander Effect (or Bystander Apathy)

The bystander effect occurs when a person will not offer help to a victim when in the presence of other people. The probability Probability Probability is a mathematical tool used to study randomness and provide predictions about the likelihood of something happening. There are several basic rules of probability that can be used to help determine the probability of multiple events happening together, separately, or sequentially. Basics of Probability of helping others is inversely proportional to the number of people present around the victim. There are several factors that affect bystanders’ behavior.

Emergency versus nonemergency situations: Latane and Darley explained that the way a victim asks for help affects behavior. These investigators conducted experiments in which they instructed students to ask the name of a stranger passing by. More strangers replied and gave their names when the students gave their names first.

Similarly, another experiment was performed in which the students were told to ask for a dime from a stranger. Fewer people helped them when they directly asked for a dime, but when a student said that they had lost their wallet and had no money, then more strangers helped them.

In addition, according to the principle of social influence, people are influenced by how others react to the situation. If other people do not intervene, then the bystander will not offer help either.

Ambiguity and consequences: In this context, ambiguity means that a person does not know whether or not the victim needs help. In highly ambiguous situations, in which the victim is not asking for help or is not shouting (or if the situation is not severe), the bystander’s reaction time will be longer. In situations with low ambiguity, where the victim is yelling for help or there is significant blood loss, the bystander’s reaction time will be quicker. In this case, the number of bystanders is irrelevant.

Understanding of environment: If the bystander is present in a known environment, the reaction time will be quicker because the person knows where to get help. However, in an unfamiliar environment, the reaction time will be longer because the bystander will need to locate resources to help the victim.

Cohesiveness and group membership: Cohesiveness means established relationships with other people, such as friends. Rutkowski performed an experiment in which he arranged different groups according to their relationships with one another. In his experiment, he explained that a group of 4 best friends would respond to a request to help a victim more quickly than a group of people who were not acquainted with one another.

Altruism Altruism Belief or practice of selfless concern for others. Defense MechanismsThis research Research Critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws. Conflict of Interest states that people will help others if they have similarities.

Diffusion Diffusion The tendency of a gas or solute to pass from a point of higher pressure or concentration to a point of lower pressure or concentration and to distribute itself throughout the available space. Diffusion, especially facilitated diffusion, is a major mechanism of biological transport. Peritoneal Dialysis and Hemodialysis of responsibility: Darley and Latane proposed that people are less likely to help a victim in the presence of others because they assume that someone else will help; thus, the responsibility will be diffused. The presence of others makes it possible that no one will help the victim.

Social Loafing

Social loafing can be described as a phenomenon in which a person in a group exerts less effort to achieve a goal than when working alone. Ringelman’s experiment showed that when people were asked to pull a rope in groups, they exerted less effort than when they were alone. This phenomenon is indicated in recent studies as well, possibly because individuals believe their efforts will not be recognized when they act in groups. This is consistent with the concept of diffusion Diffusion The tendency of a gas or solute to pass from a point of higher pressure or concentration to a point of lower pressure or concentration and to distribute itself throughout the available space. Diffusion, especially facilitated diffusion, is a major mechanism of biological transport. Peritoneal Dialysis and Hemodialysis of responsibility.

Social Control

Social control can be defined as a person adapting habits to social norms. There are 2 types:

  1. Formal means of social control: rules and laws enforced by the government in order to maintain balance in the society.
  2. Informal means of social control: refers to an individual conforming to standards of behavior that are acceptable in society.

Signs warning of prohibited activities are an example of social control.

The concept of social control is related to another concept, known as the social order, which includes the following areas:

  • Existing education system
  • The law
  • Psychiatry
  • Social work
  • Working environment
  • Welfare state
Social control

Public park activity warning signs in English and Spanish

Image: “Public park activity warning signs in English and Spanish” by Svenska84. License: Public Domain

Peer Pressure

Peer pressure, also known as social pressure, can be defined as the influence others exert on an individual to change the individual’s attitudes or behavior. This phenomenon can be explained by research Research Critical and exhaustive investigation or experimentation, having for its aim the discovery of new facts and their correct interpretation, the revision of accepted conclusions, theories, or laws in the light of newly discovered facts, or the practical application of such new or revised conclusions, theories, or laws. Conflict of Interest in which an adolescent male was told to drive, and different scenarios were provided to him. The experiment showed that risk-taking behaviors increased in the presence of peers or passengers and decreased when he was alone.

Social groups affected can include:

  • Membership groups: formal or informal members and cliques
  • Dissociative groups: individuals who wish to avoid associating and behave counter to group norms

Conformity and Obedience

Conformity and obedience is defined as social pressure on an individual to change their beliefs and attitudes in order to fit into a group; this can be real (in which other people are involved) or imaginary (norms and society). A good example of this concept is an experiment Jenness performed in which individuals were given a glass bottle with beads in it. He first asked them to estimate the quantity; he then placed each person with a group and asked them to again estimate the number of beads. Jenness found that most of the participants changed their answers according to the group estimates.

There are 3 types of conformity:

  1. Compliance Compliance Distensibility measure of a chamber such as the lungs (lung compliance) or bladder. Compliance is expressed as a change in volume per unit change in pressure. Veins: Histology: An individual conforms to achieve reward or acceptance by others and to avoid punishment.
  2. Internalization: A person adopts attitudes and actions according to norms and agrees with them.
  3. Identification Identification Defense Mechanisms: A person adopts an attitude to attain a satisfying relationship Relationship A connection, association, or involvement between 2 or more parties. Clinician–Patient Relationship with another person or group.

Factors that can influence conformity include:

  • Group size: A larger group brings more conformity.
  • Unanimity: There is strong pressure not to dissent.
  • Cohesion: The individual will agree with another individual because of their similarities.

References

  1. Strauss, Bernd (July 2002). “Social facilitation in motor tasks: a review of research and theory.” Psychology of Sport and Exercise
  2. Zajonc, Robert B. (July 16, 1965). “Social Facilitation.” Science. American Association for the Advancement of Science.
  3. Markus, Hazel (1978).“The Effect of Mere Presence on Social Facilitation: An Unobtrusive Test.” Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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