Social facilitation is characterized by improved performance on simple, or well-known, tasks and impaired performance on complex, or unfamiliar, tasks. Previous research has demonstrated that the use of social presence may improve performance on cognitive-based tasks that are relevant to many organizational contexts, such as vigilance. However, to date, there has not been consolidation of the research regarding the different implementations of social facilitation, or any analysis indicating which types of social presence are best under varying conditions. The present dissertation describes three experiments that seek to contribute to a taxonomic framework of social facilitation. Experiment One statistically established a difference in task difficulty between two versions of a cognitive-based vigilance task by utilizing increasing increments of event rate in order to examine the first factor of the taxonomy (i.e., level of difficulty). Experiment Two explored the effects of two novel manipulations of social presence, electronic performance monitoring (i.e., EPM) and co-acting, in order to demonstrate that both novel forms of social presence could improve performance, and were worth examining further. Finally, Experiment Three replicated and extended the results of Experiments One and Two by examining the interaction effects of levels of task difficulty and social presence through the use of ten conditions. Overall the results indicates that multiple forms of social presence can improve cognitive performance, however, this effect was not moderated by the level of task difficulty, as suggested by the predominant theories of social facilitation. This suggests that future work should seek to replicate and extend this finding in order to determine if the level of task difficult is indeed a moderating variable of social facilitation. Additionally, the results demonstrated that social presence could be used in organizational settings in order to improve employee performance, while also sometimes reducing the perceived workload associated with the task.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Claypoole, Victoria, "Understanding Human Performance and Social Presence: An Analysis of Vigilance and Social Facilitation" (2018). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5876.