The purpose of this study was to determine if children's prior performance experience was a mediating factor in their performance of a dominant or novel task in an audience or no audience situation. Eighty 9-year-old boys were divided into experienced (n = 40) and nonexperienced (n = 40) groups based on prior youth sport experience and the absence of any performance experience before a formal audience. Half of each group learned a rotary pursuit task until they could perform the task with at least 60% accuracy. The other half did not practice the task. Groups were again divided for task performance in an audience or no audience situation so that the following treatments were observed for both experienced and nonexperienced groups: dominant task, no audience; dominant task, evaluative audience; novel task, no audience; novel task, evaluative audience. Task performance for each subject was five 20-sec trials on the photoelectric rotary pursuit task. The mean score of each set of five was used for data analysis. An audience of four passive adults was present in each audience condition and made evaluative notations following each performance. Results of a 2 × 2 × 2 (experience × task dominance × audience) ANOVA failed to support Zajonc's (1965) social facilitation theory and Cottrell's (1968) modification of this theory. The well-learned task was inhibited by the presence of an evaluative audience while performance of a novel task was enhanced. No significant experience effects were evident.
This article is from the author's dissertation, which was directed by Dr. Evelyn G. Hall and Dr. Jack K. Nelson, Louisiana State University. Requests for reprints should be sent to Dr. N. Lucinda Hollifield, Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Trask Coliseum, The University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Wilmington, NC 28403.