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Norman Triplett (1861-1931) was a psychologist at Indiana University. In 1898, he wrote what is now recognized to be first published study in the field of social psychology. His experiment was on the social facilitation effect. Triplett noticed that cyclists tend to have faster times when riding in the presence of other cyclists than when riding alone. He replicated the effect in a sample of 40 children under controlled, laboratory conditions. As hypothesized, children performed a simple lab task faster in pairs than when performing alone.

Triplett discussed several possible explanations for his findings and concluded that the "bodily presence of another contestant participating simultaneously in the race serves to liberate latent energy not ordinarily available" (Triplett, 1898). Social facilitation has received much attention from social psychologists since Triplett's time, with a number of causal factors implicated, including mere presence, evaluation apprehension, competition, attention, and distraction.

In addition to his pioneering work in social and sport psychology, Triplett was also interested in the psychology of magic. He developed an extensive list of conjuring tricks and detailed some of the principles involved, such as concealment and suggestion.


  • Triplett, N. (1898). The dynamogenic factors in pacemaking and competition. American Journal of Psychology, 9, 507-533.
  • Triplett, N. (1900). The psychology of conjuring deceptions, American Journal of Psychology, 11, 439-510.

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