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What is Social Loafing?

Social loafing is a term used by social psychologists to describe how some people contribute less when they work in a group than they would otherwise. When working in a group, some believe that their effort is not required since the other members of the group are taking care of the work at hand.

Research into social loafing has found that this effect is minimized in smaller groups, in groups where people know one another fairly well, and when people believe that they can be held individually accountable for their effort. In other words, most people work harder when they know other people will notice and care.

Social loafing can be one reason you might experience low engagement in a meeting; people may believe that their effort simply isn’t required or even valued. Keeping meetings small and structuring the meeting to invite and/or require individual effort from every participant greatly reduces social loafing, increases engagement, and happily, improves Perceived Meeting Quality.

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Related Glossary Terms
Engagement in Meetings, Perceived Meeting Quality (PMQ)

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