Taking a Free Ride: How Team Learning Affects Social Loafing

Catherine Gabelica*, Sven De Maeyer, Michaéla C. Schippers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Although collaboration is increasingly required in today’s academic and work contexts, there are many ways in which teamwork can be impaired by dysfunctional inefficiencies and process loss. An important form of process loss is the tendency for individual members of a team to exert less effort than their fellow team members (i.e., social loafing). Since teams need to sustain the effort of team members as a collaborative resource, it is imperative to understand factors that shape social loafing in team tasks. This study examines simultaneously the degree to which goal orientation and changes in team learning (i.e., shifts in collective knowledge) affect social loafing. The authors use a multiwave design to explain changes in social loafing tendencies of 675 students working in teams. They conduct linear mixed effects modeling to show that individual team members who belong to teams that score higher than other teams on team learning throughout 9 weeks of teamwork experience a decrease in social loafing. Although learning and performance orientations are significantly related to initial self-or peer-rated social loafing, they cannot explain ensuing changes in social loafing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)716-733
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Educational Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


Dive into the research topics of 'Taking a Free Ride: How Team Learning Affects Social Loafing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this