Social laziness, Deindividualization - Fundamentals of general psychology

Social laziness

Almost a century ago, the French engineer Max Ringelmann discovered that the group's collective working capacity does not exceed half of the sum of its members' working capacity.

Researcher Bibb Latana checked this conclusion, forcing people to believe that they work together with others, although in fact they did it alone. Six of the subjects were blindfolded, seated in a semicircle and put on headphones, through which the participants were deafened by the noise of applause. People could not hear themselves, let alone others. The scientists assumed that in the group the subjects would scream louder, since they would be less shy. The result was amazing: when the experiment participants believed that together with them they shouted and slapped the five others, they produced one-third less noise than in the supposed solitude. Those who applauded alone and the group did not perceive themselves as "loafers": they thought they were clapping aloud in both situations.

Social laziness is the tendency of people to make less effort when they join their efforts for a common goal, rather than in the case of individual responsibility.

When people are not responsible for the end result and can not assess their own contribution, when their personal responsibility is shared among all members of the group, then the lost in the crowd reduces the fear of evaluation, and the result becomes social leniency.

Not always collectivity of efforts leads to their weakening. Sometimes the goal is so significant that the team spirit makes everyone make every effort. It is also established that people in the group are less idle if the task is provocatively difficult, attractive and fascinating. In the case of a difficult and interesting task, people can perceive their contribution to the matter as irreplaceable.

It is also established that when people consider other members of their group to be unreliable or incapable of productive activity, they work more intensively. Additional incentives or the need to strive for certain standards also contribute to the collective efforts of the group. The same thing happens in the case of intergroup competition.

When a group meets with a challenging obstacle, when the group's success as a whole is rewarded and when the spirit of the "team game" reigns, the members of the group work most energetically.

In order to increase the motivation of team members, often use the strategy of tracking individual productivity. For example, coaches in group sports shoot a video game and subsequently evaluate each player.

Regardless of whether people are in the group or not, they make more effort when their personal result can be determined. This conclusion is reminiscent of everyday situations with diffuse responsibilities, in which members of the group tend to shift responsibility and part of the responsibilities to each other.


It's hard for us to imagine a lonely rock fan, frenziedly yelling about his music center, a lone teenager painting the entrances. In certain situations, people who are members of the group are inclined to drop normal restrictions, lose the sense of individual responsibility, to feel what psychologists call de-individualization. The group disinhibits us, causes a feeling of excitement or belonging to something larger than "I". The consequence may be acts of vandalism, pogroms, violation of rules of public order, terrorist acts, etc.

Deindividualization is the loss of self-awareness and fear of evaluation, which occurs in group situations, when anonymity of a person is ensured.

The state of de-individualization can be amplified by the following factors:

1. Band size. The larger the group, the more its members are prone to de-individualization. In large groups, the fear of evaluation drops sharply. Because so did everything & quot ;, then people explain their behavior by the current situation, and not by their own free choice.

2. Anonymity. When dissolution in a group is combined with anonymity, self-control disappears. Sometimes, to cause particularly harsh behavior, people are specially depersonalized, for example, they color their face and body, put on special masks, uniforms.

Robert Watson, studying the customs of the tribes, found that where warriors are hidden by war paint, they are especially cruelly torturing prisoners. Where there is no custom to hide faces, prisoners are usually left alive.

3. Exciting and distracting activities. Explosions of aggression in groups are often preceded by insignificant actions that excite and divert attention. Groups scream, chant, clap, dance, and this is necessary in order to simultaneously cause people excitement and reduce their self-awareness.

All the brothers and sisters of the Mun sect joined hands and cried with increasing intensity: chu-chu-chu, chu-chu-chu! I Ah! YAA! PAW! This action united us in a group, as if we had, in a mysterious way, together experienced something important. Power, chu - chu-chu, frightened me; but she also gave me a sense of comfort, and there was something extremely relaxing in this accumulation and release of energy (F. Zimbardo).

4. Decreased self-awareness. Circumstances that reduce self-awareness, for example alcohol intoxication, increase deindividualization. Deindividualization, on the contrary, decreases, if you increase self-awareness. This happens, for example, in front of a mirror and cameras, in small towns, in bright light, when wearing name plates or unusual clothes, without distracting incentives.

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