Social Social facilitation’s central focus is the change

facilitation is known as the tendency to have
an enhanced performance when either competing, or in the presence of others.
Social facilitation’s central focus is the change that occurs in a person’s
performance when performing a task alone, compared to performing it in the
presence of another person.  

            Norman Triplett (1898) (1997)is famously known for
this phenomenon: social facilitation. Norman analyzed the bicycle records from
1897. From here he noticed that bicycle racers that raced with others had a
much faster time, than the ones cycling individually. This is one of the races
that inspired him to conduct his own experiment. In this experiment he
investigated how fast the children he gathered could turn/spin a fishing reel.
However, this was performed under two conditions. They turned the fishing reel
individually in the first condition, and in the second condition next to
someone. Reeling next to another participant significantly increased their
performance. Through his investigation he figured out that when participants
spin next to each other, it makes them competitive. The reason these
participants span the reel faster when next to someone, is because of the
competition that occurs. Individuals tend to experience more arousal when
performing a task next to someone than when performing it alone.

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Robert Zajonc (1965) came up with an
experiment that was related to social facilitation. He put cockroaches in a
maze with light, where the purpose of it was to get away from the light. Some
of the cockroaches ran in pairs, some ran alone. The results showed that the
cockroaches that ran together, tended to finish running through the maze faster
if the task was easy. However, if the task was difficult, the cockroaches’ performance
would decrease (running together). From here he concluded that social
facilitation can be understood through two components: the presence of others,
and the difficulty of the task. Allport (1920) (1987)accepted the theory,
as he also noticed that the presence of others can influence someone’s
performance. This is known as the audience effect. The influence this could
have on the experimental hypothesis of this investigation is the difficulty
behind figuring out whether or not it was social facilitation or the audience
effect that contributed to the boost in the participants’ performance.

aim of this experiment inspired by Norman Triplett’s experiment, was to
investigate whether or not performing the task of stepping up and down the
flight of stairs, would increase their performance. However, in condition A it
would be individual and in condition B it would be next to someone. A one
tailed hypothesis was chosen as it was expected for the participants to
complete the 50 steps at a faster pace next to another participant. The target
group was Nørre G Pre IB students, and this investigation is a simple
replication of Norman Triplett’s (1898) experiment on social facilitation.


H1: The participants will increase their performance in the presence of
others/competing against others stepping up and down a flight of stairs.  

The performance will remain the same when in the presence/competing against
other participants stepping up and down the flight of stairs.






design used for this experiment was repeated measures. As the experiment was
performed with the same people twice (n=10), under two different conditions
(condition A and B), and the results had to be compared. The students were
chosen through opportunity sampling, meaning they were randomly selected.
However, keeping in mind the fact that they had the same gender. In our case,
the participants were all females. This was a controlled laboratory experiment.

It was made sure that instructions were explained to
the participants correctly and precisely. In order for the participants to not
compete in the condition A, when they stepped up and down the flight of stairs,
they were not allowed to communicate while the experiment was going on. The
results were not disclosed until the end of the repeated measures. In condition
B, participants did not communicate with each other, and it was made sure that
they understood they should “Complete the 50 steps at their own pace”, when stepping
up and down next to another participant.

concerns were assured, as a consent form1
was signed by all the participants. The participants were over 18, therefore
their consent was enough. The participants received brief instructions2
before the experiment. They were told that they could withdraw from the
experiment anytime, and their results would remain anonymous. After the
experiment we revealed the purpose behind the experiment by debriefing3.


cause-and-effect relationship could be established as the experiment was
controlled. The independent variable of this investigation was: the two
conditions: A and B. Performing the experiment individually or in the presence
of others. The dependent variable was the amount of time it took for the
participants to step up and down 50 times in both conditions A and B.


The target population of this experiment was IB students from Nørre G. The
experiment included 10 participants (n=10). The students were randomly achieved
through opportunity sampling, because this was the most convenient method. However,
keeping in mind they all had the same gender, so there would not be any gender
differences. In this experiment the students randomly selected were females.



Consent forms




·      Benches

·      Stopwatch




first, the 10 participants received brief instructions, and were asked to sign
the consent form. In condition A, the participants ran individually. However, 5
of the participants stepped up and down the flight of stairs 50 times, each
accompanied by an instructor. They were placed, far away from each other to
avoid any competition. Once everyone had finished stepping up and down the
flight of stairs individually, they were given a 5-10minute break.

Thereafter, the five remaining participants performed
the exact same experiment in condition A (individually), each accompanied by an

As soon as everyone finished the 50 steps, all 10
participants were asked to step up and down the flight of stairs 50 times next
to another participant in condition B. All of the participants stepped up and
down at the same time. They were specifically told to “Complete the 50 steps at
your own pace”. This was timed with a stop watch.

At last the results in both conditions were read out
loud, and the participants were debriefed4
about the purpose of the experiment.



Table 1: Shows mean of steps taken in
both Condition A (individual) and Condition B (Next to a participant). The
standard deviation of both conditions.


Mean steps taken

Standard deviation

Condition A (Individual)



condition B (Next to a participant)






looking at the raw data5,
it could be seen that there was a difference of 8 between the two conditions A
and B. The standard deviation showed that the results were very spread out. The
mean was chosen because it showed how close the data values were to each other.
The standard deviation was chosen because it is a good measure of the variation
between the results.


Figure 1: Y axis showing time taken to
complete 50 steps, and X axis showing the mean of steps taken in both condition
A and B. Along with this the errors bars are shown.

Shows that in condition B it took less
time to complete the 50 steps up and down, than in condition A, because A has a
mean of 54, whereas condition B has a mean of 46.





experiment tested repeated measures design. The test used to test statistical significance
was the Wilcoxon Test6.
The W-value was 0. The critical of W for N=10 at p<0.05 is 8. This was calculated using an online source. The p-value is 0.00512 which is significant at p< 0.05. This investigation was a one-tailed hypothesis. As there was a significant difference, this made it possibl to reject the null hypothesis and accept the experimental hypothesis. Meaning there was a significant difference or increase in condition B from A.   Discussion  Triplett's study showed that children spinning a fishing reel in the presence of others doing it, increased their performance. Furthermore, this investigation also showed that the Pre-IB students' performed significantly better when stepping up and down the flight of stairs in the presence of another student. However, even though there was a significant increase in performance in condition B (Next to a participant), the amount of students that participated were only 10, at the age of 18. This limits the extent to which the results can be generalized to an entire population. The experiment was a controlled laboratory experiment, meaning it had a low ecological validity. A more varied target population and a larger sample, would make it easier to generalize. E.g. In Triplett's study there was a total of 40 students between the age 8-17.   Even though the instructions clearly indicated that they needed to step up and down the flight of stairs in condition B (next to a participant) at their own pace, the word competition was avoided. However, the fact that there was a form of subtle competition cannot be ignored, since as Allport (1920) mentions in his study the mere presence of another person working hard on the same task can boost/increase their performance. This is known as co-action effect. Another limitation in this study, could be the presence of an audience, someone who is not performing the task. This is known as the audience effect introduced by Allport (1920). While the Pre-IB students were stepping up and down the flight of stairs both in condition A (Individually), and condition B (Next to a participant), in the presence of an instructor and also an another student performing the same task. This is a confounding variable, as the mere presence of the instructor could have boosted their performance. This confounding variable makes it hard to figure out whether or not it was the instructor or the participant running next to the participant that boosted their performance in condition B. In order to modify this and prevent audience effect in both condition A and B, the use of a mechanical device to count the time taken to step up and down the flight of stairs 50 times, would erase the audience effect. Another limitation found is the fact that all the participants were kept in the same room. The students were told not to speak to each other after performing their task, however, their performance could be seen physically. They could be panting because of the amount of hard work they put into fulfilling the task. To modify this, it would be a good idea to keep the students separately to erase this limitation. Students whom had just performed the task, would be send to another room, instead of the one where the students that have not performed were waiting. Robert Zajonc' (1965) drive theory, mentions that the complexity of a task also contributes to a person's performance. The easier the task is, the better the participant will perform. However, the experiment however was quite easy, as it only required the students to step up and down the flight of stairs at their own pace in both conditions A and B. It did not require for the students to have any specific knowledge, that they needed to keep in mind.  The results showed that the difference in mean was 8, and furthermore this difference was found to be significant 0.05. The aim of the experiment was to investigate whether or not the pre-IB students would increase their performance when stepping up and down the flight of stairs next to another participant. Conclusively, the one tailed hypothesis, that participants increase their performance when performing with others, compared to when performing alone suggests that the Triplett (1898) study can be accepted. 1 See Appendix 1 2 See Appendix 2 3 See Appendix 3 4 See Appendix 3 5 See appendix 3 and 4 6 See Appendix 5