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Kaplan, D.M. (1994). Theory as Practice. Psychoanal. Inq., 14(2):185-200.

(1994). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 14(2):185-200

Theory as Practice

Donald M. Kaplan, Ph.D.

The school of psychology known as social facilitation (Simmel, Hoppe, and Milton, 1968) tells us that in states of high drive arousal, such as inevitably occur in the presence of members of one's own species, all creatures, large and small, repeat dominant responses even when nondominant responses would be more advantageous to the solution of an immediate problem. The lowly cockroach, for example, will figure out a new maze with greater facility alone than in the company of another cockroach. Of course, once the maze is learned, having then become a dominant response, the cockroach will repeat it more reliably in a social situation than alone (Zajonc, 1965).

Such effects of an audience upon the performance of tasks, which is a subject of social facilitation theory, should come as no surprise to the psychoanalyst, who speaks of this situation at the human level as transference. The concept of transference embodies our theory of social facilitation (Simmel et al., 1968).

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