Solomon Asch conformity experiments
A study of conformity
The experimenter asks all of you, one at a time, to choose which of the three lines on the right card matches the length of the line on the left card. The task is repeated several times with different cards. On some occasions the other “subjects” unanimously choose the wrong line. It is clear to you that they are wrong, but they have all given the same answer.
To Asch’s surprise, 37 of the 50 subjects conformed themselves to the ‘obviously erroneous’ answers given by the other group members at least once, and 14 of them conformed on more than 6 of the ‘staged’ trials. When faced with a unanimous wrong answer by the other group members, the mean subject conformed on 4 of the ‘staged’ trials.
Why did most subjects conform so readily? When they were interviewed after the experiment, most of them said that they did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone along with the group for fear of being ridiculed or thought “peculiar.” A few of them said that they really did believe the group’s answers were correct.
Conformity, group size, and cohesiveness
He found that the subjects conformed to a group of 3 or 4 as readily as they did to a larger group.
However, the subjects conformed much less if they had an “ally” In some of his experiments, Asch instructed one of the confederates to give correct answers. In the presence of this nonconformist, the real subjects conformed only one fourth as much as they did in the original experiment. There were several reasons: First, the real subject observed that the majority did not ridicule the dissenter for his answers. Second, the dissenter’s answers made the subject more certain that the majority was wrong. Third, the real subject now experienced social pressure from the dissenter as well as from the majority. Many of the real subjects later reported that they wanted to be like their nonconformist partner (the similarity principle again). Apparently, it is difficult to be a minority of one but not so difficult to be part of a minority of two.
An insight into Human Psychology?
A “Human Tripartism”
It is widely known that Plato, pupil of and close friend to Socrates, accepted that Human Beings have a ” Tripartite Soul ” where individual Human Psychology is composed of three aspects – Wisdom-Rationality, Spirited-Will and Appetite-Desire.