Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Crash Course in Social Loafing

Disclaimer: This post is intended to be humorous and entertaining. No offense was intended to any of the mentioned parties.

As the resident Ph.D in the group, I feel it is my obligation to educate you all on the pitfalls of what we in the world of Social Psychology refer to as "social loafing" and "diffusion of responsibility"

By definition, according to Wikipedia, (because I'm too lazy to look up a more legitimate source... like the Intro Psych book that's 10 feet away from me. Don't judge, I just ran 13 miles.), social loafing is a phenomenon that occurs when people exert less effort when working in groups than when they work alone. As the number of people in a group increases, people begin to experience what we call "deindividuation," in other words, their role as individual doesn't seem to matter as much, and therefore they will do less work toward the desired goal of the group. Individuals start to feel as though they have less responsibility towards that goal, and will assume that someone else in the group will take responsibility for the necessary actions.*

Say, for example, you're cooking (on the stove). You have 4 helpers who are all eager to assist you, but also busy with other tasks, and are also well aware that they are a single member of your "helper team". You request (to no one in particular) that someone clarify a pound of butter (because what's better than more butter?). Several minutes later you notice that there is no butter on the stove and your recipe is now ruined. What happened? What most likely happened is that everyone in the room assumed that someone else was taking care of your request, with the end result being that the task was never completed. This phenomenon is the reason why when you get CPR certified, you learn that you must always point to a specific person and ask that THEY call 911. This is also, tragically, the reason we had to learn, as a society, the hard lessons from the case of Kitty Genovese.

On a less sobering note, you may be wondering why I am giving you this crash course in social psych? While I'm fairly certain that Meghan's 3rd graders truly are amazing, I highly doubt that that is the most interesting thing going on in the lives of the 4 Kranz Sisters in the last 3 months.

For example:
1) I know for a FACT that Meghan ran the San Diego Marathon last weekend.
2) I also know that Lisa has written music, recorded a video and posted it on YouTube
3) I ALSO know that I graduated from grad school for the 9th time and have pictures to prove it.
4) I was also recently informed that Katie has been given orders on her next big international adventure.

These are just a few tiny morsels of knowledge that I possess about our ever exciting lives. So why has no one blogged? Some might say that we, as a group, are engaging in the aforementioned social loafing, and are experiencing diffusion of responsibility. The only alternative explanations are that a) we are boring. b) we are lazy. c) we are too stupid to type words.

So, the question I pose to you all now (in the words of Mom): Are we stupid, or lazy?

Or, in the words of A.A. Milne "get out of my chair, dillhole"

*To any of you readers out there who have more expertise than I in this area (I'm looking at all of you Brandeis-ers in particular), don't judge me if my descriptions are not comprehensive, see my comment about the running. and the 13 miles.