What was the purpose of the study? Based off of the Sherif experiment (1935) Disguised as a “vision test” Determine how often people conform
Who was involved? Impressionable participants Young male students (undergraduates) Lack of mature adults
Describe the experiment Asch Conformity Video Asch Conformity Video
What was discovered? Effect of social pressure on behaviour Conformity levelled off after 8 people
Factors Increasing ConformityFactors Decreasing Conformity Size of the Group Conformity tends to increase as the size of the group increases. However, there is little change in conformity once the group size reaches 6-8. With one other person (i.e. confederate) in the group conformity was 3%, with two others it increased to 13% and with three or more it was 32% (or 1/3). Because conformity does not seem to increase in groups larger than four, this is considered the optimal group size. Lack of Group Unanimity / Agreement When one other person in the group gave a different answer from the others, and the group answer was not unanimous, conformity dropped. Asch (1951) found that even the presence of just one confederate that goes against the majority choice can reduce conformity as much as 80%. This suggests that individuals conform because they are concerned about what other people think of them (i.e. normative influence). Difficulty of Task When the (comparison) lines (e.g. A, B, C) were made more similar in length it was harder to judge the correct answer and conformity increased. When we are uncertain, it seems we look to others for confirmation. The more difficult the task the greater the conformity. Answer in Private When participants were allowed to answer in private (so the rest of the group do not know their response) conformity decreases. This is because there is less groups pressure and normative influence is not as powerful, as there is no fear of rejection from the group. Status of Majority Group If someone is of high status (e.g. your boss) or has a lot of knowledge (e.g. your teacher), they might be more influential, and so people will conform to their opinions more (e.g. informational influence). The higher the status of the group the higher the level of conformity. http://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html
How did the experiment change Psychology? Impact view on groups/social structures People will conform, to an extent Groups larger than 8 Asch’s four lasting ideas
"That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong... is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct." – Solomon Asch
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