Authors: David A. Kravitz and Barbara Martin

Title: Ringelmann rediscovered: The original article.

Source: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 50, 936-941. 1986

A current focus of research on individual versus group performance is social loafing, the decrease in individual effort that occurs when the individual works within a cooperative group rather than alone. Theory and research on this issue have been strongly influenced by results reported in Moede (1927) and attributed to Ringelmann. Despite the importance and frequent citation of Ringelmann's study, the location of his original report has been a mystery. In this article Ringelmann's original article is discussed and described in detail. Ringelmann was a French agricultural engineer who gathered his data in the 1880s. He (Ringelmann, 1913b) reported the performance of human workers as a function of the method that the workers used to push or pull a load horizontally. Comparison of individual and group performance was a secondary interest in this experiment. Ringelmann interpreted the obtained decrement in group performance in terms of coordination loss, although he was also aware of motivational factors. Ringelmann's results are briefly related to contemporary theory and research.

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