The Asch conformity experiments were a series of studies conducted by psychologist Solomon Asch in the 1950s. The aim of the experiments was to investigate how and why people conform to societal norms.
The results of the experiments showed that people are more likely to conform to societal norms when they are in a group setting. This is because people feel pressure to conform from others in the group. The results also showed that people are more likely to conform if they believe that everyone else in the group is doing so.
“Opinions and Social Pressure,” written by Solomon E. Asch and published in 1956, is a research report on “How much and to what extent do social pressures influence people’s opinions and attitudes?”
In this experiment Asch was interested in exploring if an individual’s opinion can be influenced by a group and to what extent. He believed that people want to fit in with society and will go along with what others say even if they know it is wrong.
The study was conducted by having seven to nine confederates give the wrong answer to simple comparison questions such as “Which line is longer?” The subject being tested was the only one who did not know that the answers given by the confederates were wrong. The results showed that the subject often went along with the group even when they knew the answer was wrong.
The study showed that people will conform to what others say even if they know it is wrong. This conformity can be explained by the desire to fit in with a group and the need for social approval. People want to be liked and accepted by others and will go along with the majority even if they know it is wrong.
This study has important implications for our understanding of human behavior. It shows that we are often influenced by others even when we know that what they are saying is wrong. We need to be aware of this tendency so that we can make sure that our own opinions are not unduly influenced by others.
Is it possible that people will be indifferent due to personality, education, and social pressures? “Every individual’s behaviors, judgments, and beliefs are influenced by social forces. It’s a truism that everyone would readily agree to.” (Asch 20) Solomon Asch conducted experiments in the 1950s that helped establish norms for how individuals make decisions based on facts in real life.
In the experiment, subjects were asked to participate in a “vision test” that would show how accurate their vision was. There were seven people in each group, and six of them were actors. The subject was the only person who did not know that they were part of an experiment, and they believed that they were testing their vision.
The actors would give the same wrong answer on purpose to see if the subject would go along with the majority or if they would stick to their own opinion. The results showed that about 75% of the subjects conformed at least once during the experiment by going along with the majority, even though they knew that they were wrong.
The Asch conformity experiments demonstrated how people are influenced by the opinions of others, even when those opinions are obviously wrong. People want to conform to the majority because they believe that if everyone else is doing it, then it must be the right thing to do. This pressure to conform can be very strong, and it can lead people to do things that they would not normally do.
Solomon Asch wrote a book entitled “How We Know What Isn’t So,” in which he presented several facts that support his thesis that “how and to what extent do social forces limit people’s viewpoints and attitudes?” To demonstrate Asch’s theory of how each person chooses, the experiments included the following: A group of seven to nine young men, all college students, are gathered in a classroom for a “psychological experiment” in visual perception.
The room is bare except for a blackboard and a poster with an illustration of three different-sized lines. The subject (the person being tested) is seated at one end of a long table, facing the other subjects. The experimenter stands at the other end of the table, in front of the blackboard.
The experimenter begins by asking each subject to read aloud, one after the other, his estimate of the length of Line A on the poster. (All the estimates are obviously wrong; Line A is much shorter than Lines B or C.) Each subject’s answer is written on the blackboard. Then it is Line B’s turn. When all nine subjects have spoken, the experimenter erases the board and asks the subject to read his estimate of Line C’s length.
The subject almost always gives the same answer as the other subjects, even though it is obviously wrong. Why? Because he wants to “fit in” with the group and does not want to appear different. He has succumbed to social pressure.”
From these experiments, Asch gathered that when people are in a group, they tend to go along with what everyone else says, even if it is wrong. People conform because they want to be accepted by the group and fit in. This need to belong can be stronger than our need to tell the truth. In some cases, people will conform even when they know the group is wrong!
Other experiments conducted my Asch showed that people will conform even when the task is difficult, when there are more than two people in the group, and when they know other members of the group. In fact, the larger the group, the more likely people are to conform!
So, why do we conform? There are a few reasons. First, we want to fit in and be accepted by others. Second, we want to avoid being rejected by others. Third, we sometimes think that other people know better than we do. And finally, we may simply go along with what everyone else is doing because it is easier than standing up for ourselves.
Conforming can have both good and bad consequences. On the one hand, it can help us get along with others and make us feel like we belong. On the other hand, it can prevent us from thinking for ourselves and from standing up for what we believe in. So, the next time you find yourself going along with the crowd, stopped and ask yourself if you are really doing what you believe is right, or if you are just conforming to social pressure.