Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/WikiBook Transparency Increases Accountability, Decreases Social Loafing

WikiBook Transparency Increases Accountability, Decreases Social Loafing (Karen Darko) edit

Until this week’s reading, I was completely unaware that social science research had uncovered a phenomenon called social loafing. Now that I’m aware of it, the phenomenon completely intrigues me. In retrospect I realize that I have experienced social loafing (and in all honesty, have probably been a social loafer). But I have so often heard the maxim “groups accomplish more than individuals” that I brushed aside any thoughts of loafing on my part or on the part of my teammates. However, after reading Kraut’s “Applying Social Psychological Theory to the Problems of Group Work” (Carroll, 2003), I realize how wrong my assumptions have been. As Kraut points out, one key way to mitigate social loafing for computer-supported cooperative work (CSCW) is to make team members accountable. Mitigating social loafing is critical because it erodes individual motivation, which can result in synchronization problems (Carroll, 2003). One CSCW platform that can reduce social loafing is the WikiBook.

The intrinsic structure of WikiBooks and Wikis boosts accountability, thereby decreasing social loafing. These CSCW platforms require users to log in so that their contributions are identified; original writings, edits, and modifications to other’s writings are linked back to the user who made them. This identifiability deters social loafing because individuals are accountable and behavior is linked to them (Carroll, 2003). By building accountability mechanisms into CSCW platforms, designers can mitigate social loafing and help to maintain individual motivation.

Work Cited

Carroll, J. M. (2003). HCI Models, Theories, and Frameworks. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann Publishers.