Social Loafing

Social loafing is social psychology phenomenon where individuals tend to exert less effort on a task when they are working as a part of a group than when working on one’s own. The term was coined by US psychologist Bibb Latané in 1979. However evidence has shown that the phenomenon greatly reduced when individual contributions are made identifiable within the group.

Evidence suggests that social loafing tends to occur when individuals contribute to a group product, whereas, coaction effects (the effect on an individual’s task performance of the presence of other individuals engaged in the same activity) tend to occur when individuals work in groups to produce individual products.

Maximilien Ringelmann, a French agricultural engineer first investigated the phenomenon during 1913. In one of his experiments, students pulled as hard as they could on a rope, alone and in groups of two, three, and eight; the results showed that, on average, groups of three exerted only two and a half times as much force as an individual working alone, and groups of eight exerted less than four times the force of a single person.