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Social Facilitation: A Test of Competing Theories


  • 1Research reported in this article is based in part on a master's thesis by Joshua M. Feinberg under the supervision of John R. Aiello and submitted to the Graduate School at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.


Evaluation–apprehension and distraction–conflict have typically been treated as alternative explanations for social facilitation. The present study tested both theories under a single design. The study examined (a) whether each explanation predicted social-facilitation performance outcomes and (b) whether combining evaluation and distraction manipulations produced even greater performance outcomes. The present study also explored whether physical presence is necessary to produce social-facilitation effects when evaluation and distraction manipulations are already present. The study found significant facilitation effects on the simple task only in the evaluation–apprehension condition. Significant performance impairment was found for both evaluation and distraction. Combining evaluation with distraction led to greater effects only on the complex task. Furthermore, physical presence does not appear necessary to produce social-facilitation effects.