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Durham e-Theses
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Mild social stress and human performance: the role of competition, evaluation and the presence of others

Weaver, Susan M. (1978) Mild social stress and human performance: the role of competition, evaluation and the presence of others. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This work reports a series of experiments designed to investigate the effects of non-verbal ('mere presence') social situations on the performance of routine, sensitive tasks. The particular conditions examined are coaction, competition and audience presence. Other variables of interest are individual differences (personality, sex and ability) and type of task (motor, cognitive and perceptual). The experiments are primarily based on theories of social facilitation, particularly Zajonc's interpretation of mere presence effects and their relationship to arousal level. However, these social situations are also considered in a broader context and effort is made to theoretically integrate this area of research with the larger body of literature concerning stress and human performance. Bearing this latter concern in mind, a central and somewhat unique feature of this work is the use of 'sensitive' performance tasks and the analysis of data in terms of task strategies and shifts in attention, rather than overall measures which sometimes mask effects. It is concluded that social comparison processes and inter-subject pacing of performance provide a better explanation of the present data than do arousal theories. The generality of these effects across different tasks and subject populations is considered, as is the role of individual differences. A model is offered which outlines the typical sequence of performance related behaviours in mere presence situations and suggestions are made, in terms of this model, for future research.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1978
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 15:36

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