Chib, Adachi, and O’Doherty confirmed the social facilitation effect. They report that “Throughout our lives we must perform tasks when being observed by others. Previous studies have shown that the presence of an audience can cause increases in an individual’s performance as compared to when they are not being observed—a phenomenon called ‘social facilitation’. . . .We used functional magnetic resonance imaging to monitor brain activity while healthy human participants performed a skilled-task during conditions in which they were paid based on their performance and observed and not observed by an audience. . . .[our] findings illustrate how neural processing of social judgments gives rise to the enhanced motivational state that results in social facilitation of incentive-based performance.” The outcomes describe by Chib and colleagues result when people are doing a simple or well-rehearsed task and are reversed when people are being observed and doing a new or more difficult one. Participants in the Chib-lead study were playing a simple video game.
Vikram Chib, Ryo Adachi, and John O’Doherty. “Neural Substrates of Social Facilitation Effects on Incentive-Based Performance.” Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, in press, https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsy024