drive theory of social facilitation

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A theory formulated in 1965 by the US-based Polish psychologist Robert B(oleslaw) Zajonc (1923–2008) to explain what had until then appeared to be contradictory findings on audience effects and coaction effects. According to the theory, when an individual performs a task, the effect of an audience or coactors is to increase the individual's arousal level, which in turn increases the emission of dominant responses in the individual's response repertoire. If the task is simple or well learned, then the dominant responses are likely to be mostly correct, and the audience or coaction effect results in an improvement or enhancement of performance; but if the task is difficult or inadequately learned, then wrong responses are likely to predominate and the effect is an impairment of performance. See also evaluation apprehension, social facilitation.

Subjects: Psychology.

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