The self-attention-induced feedback loop and social facilitation

Charles S. Carver, Michael F. Scheier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


It has been proposed that self-directed attention leads to the engagement of a cybernetic feedback loop, by which discrepancies between present behavior and a standard of comparison are reduced. This analysis is applied to performance facilitation effects, which are more typically explained in terms of drive theories. Though these two approaches to motivation make similar behavioral predictions in this context, they assume different mediating states. Support is noted for the assumptions that mirror presence and audience presence induce self-focus, and that they lead to comparison with salient behavioral standards. Support for the assumption that these manipulations increase arousal is also reviewed, and is challenged on methodological grounds. The attentional analysis is used to derive predictions regarding changes in physiological state over the course of a typical social facilitation procedure. An experiment is reported which confirmed these predictions. Discussion centers on how to interpret physiological changes in terms that are compatible with control theory, how to account for social impairment phenomena in terms of the present model, and the conceptual relationship between mirror presence and audience presence as experimental manipulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)545-568
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1981

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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