Saturday, March 23, 2019

How to Do a Big Project in a Big Family Introduction - What is Social Loafing?

There was a time when I didn’t have many siblings. I was very little back then and don’t remember much of it, but that’s why I have parents to quote my younger self. :) According to my parents, I wanted to have more siblings back then because I would have people to help me clean up my stuffed animals and things. More siblings make it make chores easier, right?

Boy, was I wrong! Not only do they add on to the mess, but more times than not, they don’t do their part! From my experience, when it comes to siblings, typically many hands do not make light work.

This is because of a gruesome phenomenon called “social loafing.” Here is how it works:

Imagine there’s a big project with a lot of workers. Say ten people. If everything goes right the job should be done in a tenth the time it takes one person.

Then one of the worker sees the other nine workers around him and thinks to himself, “Even if I put in the minimum effort the job still will be done quickly. There are all these other people working so I don’t need to.”

But what if instead of one working taking this approach, all of them did? Everything would go super slowly. Instead of taking a tenth the time it takes one person, they may take double! Instead of being quicker than one person doing it himself, they are slower!

This is a problem my family faces on a regular basis. The good news is it can be prevented. I am making you a blogging series with a few things you can do to ward social loafing in your family. 

Next time you’ll get the first of my four tips.

  1. Plan it out ~ the Checklist
  2. Make it competitive ~ House Bingo
  3. Give people power ~ The Shovel & Dark Vader of the Kitchen
  4. Divide work well ~ Bathing the littles


  1. Engaging introduction! I'm guessing a bit of this could apply to the workplace as well.

  2. Thanks! Yes, the term “social loafing” definitely originated with teams in the workplace, so, even though the series will target large families, some things will apply. :)

  3. I see social loafing in nearly all of my college group projects - it's almost comical how much effort people put into evading responsibility!

    1. Yes, sometimes it seems like it would be easier for people just to do their part! =D