Energy Made Visible
Abstract Energy is an emerging concept in social psychology. Baumeister et. al., likening energy to a muscle, have defined exertion of self control as an energy depleting behavior. Energy depletion is measured by reduced performance on a subsequent self-control task. In contrast, Canavan's work on social energy focuses on energy generation and replenishment. Social energy is produced when two or more people are intrinsically interested in the same thing and form a satisfying relationship over this interest. Individuals high in social energy exert more effort, persist longer, and perform better. The present study was conducted in a 2x2 ANOVA design with Social Energy and Depletion as the independent variables and persistence and performance as the dependent variables. Participants worked in groups of two or three groups and were randomly assigned to conditions. In High Social Energy, they imagined managing The Beatles. In the No Social Energy, they imagined managing a cover band playing Beatle's songs. The participants then performed either a depleting or non-depleting proofreading task. Afterwards, the dependent variables were assessed in several tasks: a handgrip task and a measure of creativity and persistence. The results indicate: (1) no significant effect of depletion on the handgrip task and (2) no significant effect of social energy on any of the behavioral measures (i.e. handgrip task or creativity measure). In conclusion, the results did not support either the Depletion or Social Energy behavioral predictions. In the questionnaire data differences between Social Energy and No Social Energy showed significantly higher energy states, social energy, intrinsic motivation, flow, and most important more effort and hard work. The study does improve upon former Social Energy studies in terms of its conceptualization because it successfully manipulated No Social Energy and presented a more sophisticated conceptualization of energy. The manipulations of Social Energy and Depletion interfered with each other making it impossible to test the hypotheses. Paper to be presented at the annual Psychology Honors Conference, Psychology Department, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, May 2005.