Social loafing is a psychological phenomenon where individuals exert less effort when working in a group compared to when they work alone. This is because they believe that their individual contribution will not be noticed or will not matter as much in the group setting.
The term was first coined by French agricultural engineer, Max Ringelmann in 1913, when he noticed that people were less productive when they were working as a group compared to working individually.
There are several reasons why social loafing occurs. One reason is the perceived lack of accountability. When people work in groups, it's often harder to identify who did what, so some individuals may feel like they can get away with doing less.
Another reason is the unequal distribution of work. Some people may feel like others in the group are not pulling their weight, so they reduce their own effort to match.
Social loafing can be detrimental to team performance and productivity. It can lead to feelings of resentment among team members and can undermine the overall success of the project or task at hand.
To prevent social loafing, it's important to establish clear roles and responsibilities for each team member, set individual goals as well as group goals, provide regular feedback and recognition for individual contributions, and foster a sense of cohesion and commitment within the team.