Solomon Asch Conformity Experiments (1951) Essay

1517 words - 6 pages

In 1951, Solomon Asch carried out several experiments on conformity. The aim of these studies was to investigate conformity in a group environment situation. The purpose of these experiments was to see if an individual would be swayed by public pressure to go along with the incorrect answer. Asch believed that conformity reflects on relatively rational process in which people are pressured to change their behaviour. Asch designed experiments to measure the pressure of a group situation upon an individual judgment. Asch wanted to prove that conformity can really play a big role in disbelieving our own senses.

Asch initiated his experiment by making one of the particpants at ease. He asked a serious of elementary questions where the four confederates answered them correctly so the fifth person also answered the question correct. This in sense gave the participant a false interpretation of the actual thinking behind Asch true experiment. The participants were asked to compare, identify and match one of three lines on the right card to the length of the line on the left card. This task was repeated several times to get a true picture of the data collated.

Participants were not under any explicit demand to conform, as they received no physical or verbal coercion to do so. The specific hypothesis centered on the idea, “if group pressure can play influence and effect individuals perception, decision and attitudes”. The independent variable will be “Procedure”, and the dependent variable is the “level of conformity did change”.

The experiments were quite simple, in that there was a seemingly harmless task to be performed, and the participants were instructed to choose the estimation of the lengths of a line when compared to two others of different length - as illustrated in the figure below:

http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/social/asch_conformity.gif


Asch experiment involved 5/7 male students participating in what they thought was a visual discrimination task. The participants seated themselves around a table, these confederates were not known to each other, and most important concept of this experiment relied on the fact all of the participants were working together, but for one. They took turns in a fixed order to call out publicly which of three comparison lines was the same length as a standard line on the left card. In reality only one person was a naive participant who answered second to last, the rest were experimental confederates instructed to give erroneous responses.

The results were intriguing as there were large individual differences or variation in responses. However nonetheless what was evident was that 25 percent of participants remained independent throughout the trials, another 50 percent conformed to the erroneous majority in 6 or more trials and another 5 percent conformed on all 12 trials. Therefore the average conformity rate was 33 percent.

Asch used quantitative sampling method, which means...

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