Kiran Krishnan
2 min readSep 24, 2021

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Ever wondered why group work fails sometimes? Blame the Ringelmann effect 💭

What can we do about it? Researchers already have answers.

Ringelmann effect in Football Team

Ringelmann was a French agricultural engineer who was much interested in analyzing the efforts of men in groups. According to him, group size is inversely proportional to the magnitude of effort contributed by individual members in the group. This means, greater the number of members in a group lesser will be their individual efforts to complete the task. One can notice this happening in several group settings like in a class room when a teacher asks question to students, every student thinks another student will answer or in a office meeting when every member thinks another will answer when an organizer raises a question or in a football game where every member thinks another will perform better in the game. Thus, the Ringelmann effect is possible in every group setting.

Why this happens and how to overcome?

According to Ringelmann, this effect happens due two reasons: lack of motivation and loss of coordination.

  1. Lack of motivation

This happens due to each member in a group thinks another will put efforts for them as individual efforts aren't visible and thus lack of motivation happens. To overcome this, it is better to identify what is expected of the specific person. For eg., in a meeting it is better to direct the question to a specific person to answer the question. Also, if for group projects it is better to define the individual scope of work for each personnel in a group such that every one identifies their targets and will be motivated to execute them.

2. Loss of coordination

Individuals are unique, so are their capabilities and when different people with different talents come together there happens the loss of coordination. This may prove detrimental to the task or game, as individuals may be fantastic of their own but the desired end result as a group may not be achieved. To overcome this it is required to string together the individuals capabilities towards the common goal. For eg., in a game of football, who should pass the ball and who should strike the ball, the coordination between them should be realized beforehand to win the game.

Closing thoughts:

Thus using the methods to overcome Ringelmann effect the problem of slacking or being a free rider in a group can be effectively removed. It is also better to avoid forming large groups to perform a task. This exemplifies the fact as far as productivity is concerned, “it is more in less”.

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Kiran Krishnan

Life enthusiast; Seeker; Renaissance man; Life long student ; Self taught scientist.