The effects of social and spatial density upon attraction, crowding, task performance, and mood

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Virginia Tech


Males placed in one of two room sizes and one of two group sizes engaged in several group discussions, performed anagrams tasks, and served as members of a mock jury. Results indicated that subjects liked each other more in small groups than in large groups, that subjects in large rooms reported feeling more negative emotions than those in small rooms, that subjects felt more crowded in small rooms than in large ones, and that small rooms contained more information than large ones. Subjects performed better on the anagrams tasks, liking for group members increased, and reports of negative emotive feelings decreased as the experiment progressed.

Results have theoretical and methodological implications since (1) social density is shown to be different than spatial density, (2) there are time-dependent effects, (3) "crowding" as an intervening variable cannot mediate observed effects of social density, and (4) subjects in the large. group, large room condition showed the greatest number of deleterious effects of treatment. Various theoretical mechanisms and their applicability to the present study are discussed.