Asch’s study on conformity

Solomon Asch
Widely recognized as one of the pioneers in developing social psychology as an academic discipline. His celebrated study of conformity provided a vivid demonstration of how individuals respond to the social pressures and expectations of others.

Participants in Asch study
123 male American undergraduates

Naive participant
Participant who is unaware of the aims of the study

Confederates
“fake subjects” that look & behave like real subjects in study

Dissenting confederate
confederates who take part in the study but do not give same answers as other confederates

Unanimity
Agreement by everyone in the group on a single course of action

1950s
The decade in which Asch did his original experiment

The number of trials in which confederates gave the wrong answer
12/18

Task difficulty
When Asch made his line task more difficult – conformity rose amongst naive ppts as they were unsure of the answer and looked to the majority for information

Unanimity Variation
When there was a dissenting confederate to break the unanimity of the confederates, conformity amongst naive ppts decreased as they felt more confident to go with their own decisions

Group Size
The optimum group size for conformity to take place is a majority of 3 people…

Results – which % of ppts never conformed
25%

Results – which % of ppts conformed at least once
75%

Evaluation – Artificial task and situation
Task didn’t represent real life situations – lacked ecological validity
Cannot generalise findings to everyday situations

Evaluation – A child of its time
Ppts may have conformed in Asch’s original experiment because it took place in a time where where the consequences of not conforming were more serious – the Asch effect is not consistent across time

Evaluation – limited application of findings
Ppts were all male and American – not generalisable across genders or cultures

Collectivist
this adjective describes cultures in which the individual is less important than the group –
people in these cultures may be more likely to conform

Individualist
culture in which the individual is valued more highly than the group
people in these cultures may be less likely to conform