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    Audience effect & drive theory

    Tuesday, August 13, 2019 Last Updated 2020-02-24T11:17:27Z
    The audience effect is the effect an audience has on a person—or a group of people—who are attempting to perform a certain task while being watched.

    An effect first studied by psychologists in the 1930s, it primarily shows up in two opposite extremes; many performers (athletes in particular) will actually raise their level of play when a large crowd is watching, while others will succumb to stress and self-consciousness and end up performing worse than their true talent level.

    In 1965, social psychologist Ribert Zajonc suggested that the drive theory could account for the audience effect.

    Zajonc suggested that what determines whether a passive audience causes a positive or a negative effect on the performer depends upon the relative “easiness” of the task being performed.

    If the performer believes that she should win a fight, for instance, the audience effect will tend to motivate her to perform at a high level.

    If she is unsure to begin with, the audience effect may facilitate a loss due to lower self-esteem.

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