Social Facilitation, Excitation Transfer & Matching Theories

Social facilitation is a presence-induced behavior change that manifests itself in increased activity and emotional arousal. The theory originated from research on the performance of cyclists during a race. It is believed that a person alone feels more relaxed. Such a person does not worry about what their behavior looks like from the outside. As soon as at least one outside observer appears, the behavior changes. People start to pay more attention to what is happening around them; therefore, social facilitation affects their performance. Psychological research has found that individuals tend to perform better on relatively well-known or straightforward tasks in the presence of others. When people do something new or challenging, their effectiveness decreases. In the presence of strangers, people show more interest in the public, so new tasks are performed worse.

According to the excitation-transfer theory, when arousal occurs, a person strives to reduce it. However, if such a person is exposed to several excitatory stimuli in a short time, they reinforce each other, causing an aggressive reaction. According to the author of the theory, Dolf Zillmann, aggressive reactions can be caused by any intense arousal, resulting in physiological responses – increased heart rate and blood pressure. It is important to note that excitation transfer is more often carried out when aggression is a habitual reaction.

The matching theory is a theory of interpersonal attraction. It states that a relationship is formed between two equal or very similar people regarding their social desirability. In addition to the similarity in terms of attractiveness, people are interested in partners of the same age, ethnicity, and education level. They care if their potential partners adhere to similar values. This choice is explained by the fact that a sense of similarity contributes to the emergence of mutual understanding and positive attitudes between such people.

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