McNair/Gateway Scholars Program USC

Michael Cox

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Major and Classification

Psychology

Faculty Mentor

  • Frank Manis, Ph.D.

Department

  • Dornsife: Psychology

McNair Project

The Individual "I": Individual Variation in a Social Facilitation Experiment of Computer Monitoring

Abstract
Twenty-eight undergraduate participants worked on four different blocks of anagrams that varied by difficulty and the presence or absence of computer monitoring. Subjects were also administered personality tests to assess their respective levels of anxiety, extroversion, and self-esteem. Data analyses revealed a main effect of difficulty on number of anagrams solved without any main effect of monitoring condition. In addition, the lack of an interaction effect between task difficulty and monitoring condition on performance suggested that social facilitation theory did not best explain the results. Contrary to conventional understandings of the effect of anxiety on performance, there was a significant main effect of anxiety on the number of anagrams solved; participants with higher levels of anxiety actually had increasingly greater odds of solving anagrams correctly.