An investigation in to the effect of interpersonal loafing

The goal of this experiment was to gauge the effect of two categories, group or individuals, and the result they may have on the performance of people. Participants were involved in the activity of unscrambling as much words as they could in the time limit of five minutes. The hypothesis is usually that the mean quantity of words unscrambled by individuals working individually is greater than the mean range of words unscrambled by members working in a group.

The experiment consisted of 19 participants which included 10 males and 9 females. The rights of the individuals were taken into consideration throughout the whole test. Nine of the individuals who were determined randomly were divided into sets of three as the other ten members worked individually. These were given a list of 26 words to unscramble. The number of words that they were able to unscramble in 5 minutes was then gathered and counted to measure the performance of these who are working individually and the ones working in organizations.

The results show that the common number of words found for many who were working singularly was 12. 4 words as the average number of words found per person that were working in groups were 5. 22 words. This implies that the experiment facilitates the sociable loafing theory. The importance level were computed to be p < 0. 005. Which means that the probability that the results were because of chance was significantly less than 0. 5%. The results were highly significant. Thus, according to the results of the statistical test, the study hypothesis is reinforced as the null hypothesis is rejected.

The theory of public loafing is evident in a whole lot of situations in life. Community loafing is a decrease in effort by individuals when they work in communities when compared with when they work independently (Weiten, 2008: 491) Each individual in a group usually tends to put in smaller effort than they might working by itself.

Max Ringelmann (1913) first came up with the thought of public loafing when he found that when a band of men were instructed to move over a rope, they did not put in all the effort as when these were pulling exclusively. The force of the yank made by the members was measured by a strain gauge attached to the rope. When the band of men was resulted in believe that that they had other associates supporting them, he pointed out that they have a tendency to put in less work than they normally would when tugging alone. Ringelmann explained that the amount of effort produced by each individual working alone had not been exactly like the average amount of effort devote by the people who believed that they were in a group.

Another study which was used to investigate public loafing is Latan et al. 's (1979). As cited by Weiten (2008), the study consisted of measuring the amount of noises created by members who had been asked to either clap or cheer as loud as they could. A group of participants were informed that they working in a group while another group was told that these were working alone. This was in fact not true, as really the only goal was to ensure that they believed which were actually working in a group. Therefore, the amount of effort that they produced independently was measured. From the analysis, Latan and his fellow workers found that each individual in a group tends to put in lesser work when in an organization than working together.

Research shows that the larger the group, the reduced the effort produced by each one of the individuals. The reason is that when more people are allocated to an activity, the quantity of work which must be produced is divided similarly among more folks and this as a result triggers individuals to think that their effort is much less significant and their contribution is not evaluated suitably.

As cited by Antony S. R. Manstead et al. (1995, 1996:275) in the booklet called 'The Blackwell encyclopedia of interpersonal psychology', Steiner, I. D. (1972) 'postulated that actual group productivity should be lower than potential group productivity because of process deficits due to poor coordination and low inspiration'. Furthermore, he added that the potential output is usually based on performance of individuals working together.

This study aspires to support the communal loafing theory. A group of individuals will be split into two categories: those working separately and those working in groups. The mean amount unscrambled by members in each category will be determined. Their performance in the experience will show that interpersonal loafing does exist when employed in an organization. The test is a one-tailed test.

Research hypothesis (H1): The mean amount of words unscrambled by individuals working independently is higher than the mean number of words unscrambled by participants working in a group.

Null hypothesis (H0): There will be no significant difference in the amount of words within participants working independently than in an organization.



The type of method found in this experiment is an independent actions design. This was used to avoid practice effects. Each participant only took part in each condition once meaning both groups contain different individuals. The unbiased variable is working separately or in a group. The dependant variable is the difference of performance in each condition. The surroundings that the individuals were in was under handled conditions. The activity is the unscrambling of words. This test is considered as an individual blind experiment where only the experimenters know the hypothesis and aim of the experiments. Participants were given consent words to sign and were briefed and de-briefed consequently. Those who didn't include their personal on the given consent letters prior to the experiment weren't allowed to participate in the activity. Those who participated were given the to withdraw at any point of your energy. The participants also remained anonymous throughout the study.


The participants analyzed in this research consisted of 19 Yr 6 students from an exclusive institution in Victoria. The members contains 10 men and 9 females aged 11 to 13 years. The test was an opportunity sample but the participants in each category were randomly assigned. The individuals came from differing backgrounds and cultures. This is to ensure that the experiment is fair rather than biased.


List of 26 words to unscramble (Make reference to Appendix )



Briefing instructions (Make reference to Appendix )

De-briefing instructions (Make reference to Appendix )

Consent Notice (Refer to Appendix )


Participants are first briefed (Refer to Appendix ). Individuals are randomly split into two conditions. 1 / 2 of the individuals will be undertaking the activity by themselves and the other half is to be divided into groups of three to work on the same activity. Individuals who will work independently are to remain far from the other person to avoid communicating. The other individuals who will work in groups of three are to be seated collectively but each group is to be seated far from another group to avoid communication between teams. Individuals who are in the group category are asked to are a team to unscramble the set of 26 words as the others will be working singularly to unscramble the same set of 26 words. Once the seating arrangement of all the members are properly allocated, the list of 26 words is given confronted right down to the participants. Only 1 duplicate of the list will be given to each one of the groups rather than one copy for each participant. The members are then given a time limit of five minutes to quickly unscramble the list of 26 words. Through the experiment, participants have to withdraw if they do not wish to get involved. After exactly 5 minutes, these are asked to avoid writing and the bedding are to be gathered by the experimenters. Individuals are then de-briefed.


Table 1: Table shows mean quantity of words found in each category

Participants working individually

Participants working

in a group

Mean volume of words found

12. 4 words

5. 22 words

Standard Deviation

5. 04 words

1. 09 words

Graph 1: Club graph shows average no. of words found in each category

Graph 1 shows that the average variety of words found for those who were working singularly were 12. 4 words. The common volume of words found per individual who were employed in organizations were 5. 22 words. This implies that the experiment helps the communal loafing theory. The standard deviation were 5. 04 and 1. 09 respectively.

A Mann-Whitney U test was found in order to check the importance of the results as it can be an ordinal level data, and it was an unrelated design. When tested, it was discovered that the likelihood that it was the independant adjustable that changed the dependent varying rather than chance. The significance level were determined to be p < 0. 005 (Make reference to appendix ). Which means that the probability that the results were because of chance was less than 0. 5%. The results were highly significant. Thus, according to the results of the statistical test, the study hypothesis is backed as the null hypothesis is rejected.


The results demonstrates the research hypothesis has been reinforced. The mean variety of words unscrambled by members working singularly is 12. 4, greater than the mean quantity of words unscrambled by members working in a group which is 5. 22 words. A Mann-Whitney U test was used showing that the results were highly significant. This shows that the research hypothesis is recognized and the null hypothesis is rejected.

According to Ringelmann's analysis, the amount of effort produced by every individual working together is different then the common amount of work put in by the individuals who were in pseudogroups. He asserted that the performance of people working alone is a lot more than the average performance of individuals working in groups, to create the social loafing theory. Within this experiment, the sociable loafing theory is backed as the mean variety of words unscrambled by individuals working together is 12. 4, which is unquestionably higher than 5. 22 words, the common variety of words unscrambled by individuals working in groups.

The goal of this study was to gauge the cause and impact marriage of the performance of individuals working in an organization or individually. The result of this experiment relates to the study completed by Latan and his colleagues as it helps the idea of sociable loafing. The reduction in performance of individuals when they are working in groups when compared with working independently is visible in both studies.

There are several strengths in the test. Among the talents of the experiment was that the topics came from different backgrounds and cultures. That is a good as the ethnical diversity of the individuals had not been limited. Also, the actual fact that there were approximately the same quantity of men and women is good. If there were a huge difference in females and males, the experiments would not be good. Another power of the experiment is the fact it was made to be an unbiased measures design. This was to avoid practice results. If the participants had used part in both conditions, the results would have been influenced.

Though the research hypothesis was supported, there are several constraints in the test. As stated, the members were between the age ranges of 11 to 13 as it was an opportunity sample. It had been difficult to obtain a random sample as there are limited amount students available and there was a time constraint. Another limitation of the test was that no extra precaution was made ensure that the individuals didn't cheat by communicating with one another. Though we does our best effort to ensure that they didn't communicate with one another, it isn't absolute that nobody cheated. Also, through the experiment, as all the members (whether in an organization or independently) were in the same environment at the same time, there was a chance that some individuals may have overheard what unscrambled by someone else. This component of the experiment was hard to control as no matter how much work was put in to ensure it was a good experiment, the members did have an opportunity to cheat.

With relation to the limits of the experiment, there are many areas of improvement. In relation to the test itself, even though individuals and the students were randomly assigned, we could have made certain that the test were not an opportunity sample. Furthermore, rather than selecting ten men and nine females, it might have been better if there is exactly the same range of females and guys. To counteract the situation of cheating, the environment that the members were in (which was a class room) could have been different. The experiment might have been carried out within an wide open space so that there surely is a substantial amount of space between groups and the individuals working by itself. This might ensure that there was less opportunity for the individuals to cheat.

Ethical concerns were considered in this test. The individuals were permitted to withdraw at any point of your time through the activity. The protection under the law of the members were met and they remained anonymous throughout the complete experiment. The participants weren't deceived at all as that might be unethical.

The implication of this finding would be that the results produced can be shown to instructors/instructors to confirm that individuals generally work better alone than working in teams as they tend not to put in just as much effort when working in groups. In most the groups, a lot of people tend to 'slack off' and let their other team members do the task. Some individuals may also feel that their effort is not evaluated independently so they tend to put less effort than they would devote when working by themselves. This could further relate with employers in the work field.

For further studies, the test should be much bigger so that the experiment would have fewer constraints. Also, follow-up studies can change the age groups and compare the difference in performance for various age ranges. They could also investigate the effect of culture on the performance of people when employed in groups. They could test the theory of: Asians generally tend to work well in categories unlike Westerns, who would rather work singularly.

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