Participation in Team Sports Can Eliminate the Effect of Social Loafing

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The effect known as Ringelmann effect states that as group size increases, individual behavior may be less productive. If this decrease in productivity in groups is attributed to a decrement in individual motivation, it is called social loafing. We tested hypotheses that the collectivism associated with participation in team sports would reduce the level of social loafing compared to people who were not involved in team sports. In one experiment, participants (n = 72; M age = 21.7 years, SD = 2.0) had to pull a rope individually and collectively. Groups of two, three, four, and six persons were formed from among individuals with no previous sports experience, and of those who had engaged in individual and team sports. For each team, the sum of individual achievements of the individuals constituting a team was computed. This sum served as the anticipated result (expected value). The expected values were later compared to the actual achievements, i.e., the value achieved by the whole team. The results of the study suggested that previous experience in collective (team) sports eliminated the effect of social loafing.

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