Saul McLeodpublished Imagine yourself in the following situation: You sign up for a psychology experiment, and on a specified date you and seven others whom you think are also participants arrive and are seated at a table in a small room. You don't know it at the time, but the others are actually associates of the experimenter, and their behavior has been carefully scripted. You're the only real participant.
Solomon Asch Updated: To determine whether a majority can influence a minority even when the situation is unambiguous. Asch questioned the results of Muzafer Sherif and other researchers exploring what would become termed informational influence - Majority Influence - reasoning that the participants probably conformed because the stimulus was ambiguous.
Asch aimed to find out if the effects of majority influence that had previously been found in such situations are so great that they are still present when it is apparently obvious that the majority have responded incorrectly. Asch set up a situation in which 7 male student volunteers all sat looking at a display.
In turn, they had to say out loud which one of the three lines A, B, or C was the same length as a given stimulus line X [see below].
The performance of participants exposed to such group pressure was compared to performance in a control condition in which there were no confederates.
In all genuine participants were tested. On the 12 critical trials where the confederates gave the same wrong answer, the genuine participants also gave the wrong answer on This should be compared against an error rate of only 0. Individuals who gave only correct answers said either that they were confident in the accuracy of their own judgement or focused on doing the task as directed ie: A majority can influence a minority even in an unambiguous situation in which the correct answer is obvious as was shown by the almost perfect performance in the control condition.
Asch showed convincingly that group pressures to conform in terms of majority influence are much stronger than had been thought previously.
The participants were perceived to be responding to what would be termed normative influence. The research raises important ethical issues.
In addition, they were placed in a difficult and embarrassing position. Afterwards some of the participants reported they had found the experience quite stressful. In fact, majority influence has been found to be even greater among friends than among strangers.
Like Sherif, Asch only investigated conformity in trivial situations which did not call the participants deeply- held beliefs into question.
Some commentators on Asch replications have found that many confederates who are not usually trained actors struggle not to give the game away.
Therefore, the results are open to the criticism that the naive participant is displaying demand characteristics - ie:Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome.
Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints by actively suppressing . Critical Theory- A Social Theory - “Critical Theory is a theory seeking emancipation and change in a dominant social order” (Baran & Davis, ).
Replications of Asch’s study in later decades have found lower levels of conformity. Perrin and Spencer () claim that the Asch studies reflect a particular historical and cultural perspective (the American era of McCarthyism) where conformity was highly valued.
Implications for Social Change Traditionally research into social influence has been associated with social control, particularly the research of Zimbardo, but here we look at how social change can result from this research. Evaluating Asch.
thinkib Psychology is an InThinking website. Developing Critical Thinking. On the May exam for Time Zone 2 there was the following essay question. Solomon Asch's critical experiment on the effects of Majority Infleunce on Conformity in an unambiguous situation - on the web site of leading UK SocioPsychologist Keith E Rice If you have enjoyed these pages or found them useful, you may like to donate.