Opinions and Social Pressure

517 Words3 Pages
Opinions and Social Pressure Mary Opaleke The University of Winnipeg Opinions and Social Pressure The article “Opinions and Social Pressure” was written by Solomon E. Asch. Asch (1955) examined different experiments in detail which included how people can be tricked into conforming to peer pressure even when the group is obviously wrong. Further, he went ahead to explore the following questions: “[h] and to what extent do social forces constrain people’s opinions?” (p. 2) People are easily influenced through observation of the activities that take place in our social surroundings and this is justified by a statement from Asch (1955).“That social influences shape every person’s practices, judgements and belief is a truism to which anyone will readily assent. A child masters his ‘native’ dialect to the finest nuance; a member of a tribe of cannibals accepts cannibalism as altogether fitting and proper” (p. 2). “It was not too long before social thinkers seized upon these discoveries as a basis for explaining numerous social phenomena . . . . ‘[M]an is a somnambulist’” (Asch, 1955, p. 2). In this article, Bernheim talked about hypnosis as an extreme form of psychological process called “suggestibility” (Asch, 1955, p. 2). The first experiment used a technique that followed a simple plan in which the subjects, “[mainly] college students, were asked to give their opinion on various matters and later they were asked again to state their choices but this time, they were told of authorities or other large peer groups” (Asch, 1955, p. 3). Asch (1955) stated “often the alleged consensus was fictitious” (p. 3). At the end, most of the subjects directed their views to that of the majority. “Edward L. Thorndike reported that he had [successfully changed] the esthetic preferences of adults by this procedure. Other psychologists [said that their subject’s] evaluation
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