What is social promotion?

Social promotion is a psychological concept related to the tendency of others to be present to improve one’s performance in tasks. Although this seems to be a simple definition, it is actually a very complex concept with many nuances.

It also has a long history, which includes the development of various theories to help explain this phenomenon in more depth. In order to better understand the scope and level of complexity of this period of history, it is important to understand theories, related concepts and meanings.

The history of social promotion

First, let us consider a brief history of how this concept evolved. Its most basic form was first proposed in 1898 by researcher Norman Triplett.

Triplett first studied cycling by looking at the records of the cycling association. He noticed a strange phenomenon that cyclists who raced against others performed better than those who tried to surpass themselves.

Triplett was fascinated by this idea and continued to study the same concept in children doing fishing reel tasks. His results showed that among 40 children, half of the children worked faster when competing with other children, a quarter of them worked slower, and a quarter of the children showed the same performance.

This is not the first time that research has revealed conflicting results related to social promotion. In order to deal with these conflicting findings, Zajonc and Sales proposed in 1966 that “explicit response” was an explanatory factor.

They believe that for more natural tasks (so-called explicit responses), performance will be promoted or improved.

However, for complex tasks for which explicit response has not been learned, performance may be affected.

Definition of social promotion

According to the basic definition of social promotion, social promotion refers to performance improvement caused by the real, suggestive or imagined existence of others.

Two types of social promotion are also defined: joint action effect and audience effect:

  • Synergy: Synergy is when you perform better on a certain task, simply because someone is doing the same task as you. An example is working in an office with colleagues, rather than working in a separate environment.
  • Audience effect: Audience effect means that your performance becomes better because you do something in front of the audience. An example is a pianist playing at home instead of playing on stage in front of a crowd.
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In addition, social promotion is believed to involve three factors: physiological factors (drive and arousal), cognitive factors (distraction and attention), and emotional factors (anxiety and self-expression).

  • Physiological factors: This refers to the higher arousal level and execution power caused by physiological arousal when social convenience is involved.
  • Cognitive factors: This refers to the role of attention and distraction in social promotion. For example, letting people watch you do something may make you feel more focused, or it may distract you.
  • Affective factors: Finally, emotional factors refer to how anxiety and self-expression affect social promotion.

Examples of social promotion

What are some examples of social promotion actions? You may have experienced some of them in your own life, or witnessed them in people you know or in the public domain. Some examples include the following:

  • A musician/actor/performer becomes energetic and performs better because of an audience
  • I found that going to the library is better than staying at home and studying
  • A weightlifter can lift heavier weight when doing it in front of others rather than doing it alone

Related concepts

Social promotion is related to several other concepts, including Yerkes-Dodson Law and Social Loafing.

Yerkes-Dodson Law

The Yerkes-Dodson law involves the theory that performance will vary based on the difficulty of the task (or your familiarity with the task). In other words, your performance will improve for tasks that you are very familiar with and have rehearsed. On the other hand, for complex tasks or tasks for which you have no “explicit response”, your performance will decrease. If plotted on a chart, this is considered to be like an “inverted U”.

As an example, consider that if you study well on the exam, you may perform better on the exam because your alertness (your concentration) is improved and your work is better than when you test at home Faster and more accurate.

In contrast, imagine a situation where you hardly study for the exam. Suddenly, you are in a state of high pressure and need to remember facts that you hardly understand. This will increase your cognitive burden and make your performance even worse than when you test yourself at home.

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Social idleness

Social wandering is a different concept related to social facilitation. Social idleness means that when a group of people complete a task together, no one may become the focus (success or failure), then overall performance may decline. This is considered the result because everyone believes that the responsibility for the result is low.

Social promotion theory

We have touched on various theories of social promotion, but we can review these theories again here.

Activation theory

This is the theory put forward by Zajonc, which interprets social promotion as the result of arousal triggered by the presence of others (or perceptual evaluation of others).

Alertness hypothesis

Related to activation theory is the alertness hypothesis, which states that when you have an observer, you become more alert and thus perform better.

Evaluation of the Fear Hypothesis

The evaluation worry hypothesis (or evaluation method) believes that it is the evaluation of others that is important, not just their existence.

Self-presentation theory

The self-presentation theory asserts that people are motivated to leave a good impression on others and maintain a positive self-image. In other words, your performance will only improve when you feel that the audience is evaluating you.

Social orientation theory

The theory asserts that people who have a positive tendency toward social situations will experience social convenience, while those who have a positive tendency toward social situations will experience obstacles.

Feedback loop model

Feedback loop model It is pointed out that when you are observed by others, you will know yourself better. This state makes you more aware of the difference between the way you want to behave and the way you actually behave. An example of this is working harder to complete a task while others are watching, because you become more sensitive to the mistakes you usually make.

Capacity model

The capacity model refers to the limited capacity of your working memory, which affects the impact on the task. Those that require less working memory (simple tasks) are enhanced, while those that require more working memory (hard tasks) do worse.

Social Promotion Research

How is the recent research on social promotion?

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In the 2002 meta-analysis Draw three conclusions. First, determining the presence of other people will only increase arousal when completing complex tasks. Secondly, the presence of others improves the execution speed of simple tasks, but reduces the execution speed of complex tasks. Finally, the results show that the social promotion effect has nothing to do with appraisal anxiety.

Later, in 2012, Murayama and Eliot In another meta-analysis, it is shown that the impact of performance goals on performance is more important than the impact of competition with others.

Influencing factors

What factors will affect social facilitation? We have considered many of them, but let’s create a summary as a reminder:

  • If the task is difficult or complicated, social promotion is unlikely to occur. Conversely, impaired task performance may occur.
  • Compared with those who hold negative views of them or have low self-esteem, those who are more confident in social situations or seem more popular may find their performance improved.
  • Factors such as the audience’s support, how close it is, and its size may play a role in social promotion.

The impact of social promotion

What can we learn from social promotion? In other words, why do you need to understand this concept or why is it important to you?

If you think about it, understanding this concept may help you improve your performance on the task.

Here are some tips on how to do this, whether you apply them to school grades or performance in stadiums:

  • Do something alone at first until you master complex concepts or skills, and then do it in a small group to improve your performance.
  • Practice tasks until they become natural (or dominant response) so that you can perform better in front of the audience.

Very good sentence

The concept of social promotion has a long history and involves many interrelated ideas. The main takeaway should be that sometimes working with others (or performing for the audience) will improve your performance, and sometimes it may hinder your performance. If you can understand the factors that influence these results, you can make social promotion useful to you in all situations.