Master's Theses

Date of Award

Fall 1980

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology

Advisor

Thomas T. Jackson

Abstract

This study was designed to examine the mere presence (Zajonc, 1965) and evaluation apprehension (Cottrell, 1968) hypotheses of social facilitation. The experiment took place in an elementary school with 40 third-grade students from two classes serving as subjects (22 males, 18 females). Students familiar with the task (experimental group) and students unfamiliar with the task (control group) performed under one of the following social conditions: alone, mere presence, or audience. It was expected that subjects familiar with the task would perform better in the audience condition than in the mere presence condition; and, performance by subjects familiar with the task would be superior in the mere presence condition when compared to performance in the alone condition. It was also expected that subjects unfamiliar with the task would perform better in the alone condition than in the mere presence condition; and, performance by subjects unfamiliar with the task would be superior in the mere presence condition when compared to performance in the audience condition. The task consisted of a "Scrambled Words" game in which subjects attempted to unscramble 15 nonsense words within 3.5 minutes. A Scrambled Words game pretest indicated no significant differences in performance among subjects randomly assigned to perform on the posttest in one of the three social conditions. Following the pre-test, the experimental group received three 20-minute training sessions involving practice and instruction in unscrambling nonsense words. It was expected that the training would increase the likelihood that dominant, or well -learned, responses would be emitted at the expense of sub-ordinate responses when others were present during the Post-test. There were no significant differences in performance from subjects within the experimental and control groups who performed under any of the three social conditions. Partial support of Cottrell's (1968) theory, however, was found in that subjects familiar with the task performed equally well in both the alone and mere presence conditions.

Rights

Copyright 1980 Rex T. Swihart

Comments

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