Solomon Asch Summary

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Effects Of Social Pressure Adam J. Lehner In “Opinions and Social Pressure” Solomon Asch argues that although there are instances where people will choose to be independent in their opinions, many choose to conform to the majority for the purpose of avoiding insecurity created by social pressure. Asch’s experiment consisted of a group of college students gathered for a visual judgment evaluation. He told them that the purpose was to compare the lengths of vertical lines on two white cards, one showing the constant line to be matched, and the other showing three separate lines for comparison. The subjects were told to give their opinions out loud, in the order that they had been seated. What one of the subjects was unaware of is that they were the one that the experiment was based on. The other participants were confederates of Asch, giving deliberate incorrect answers. When the confederates disagreed with the subject, Asch states, “He looks surprised, indeed incredulous, about the disagreement” (Asch, 656). Each of the 123 subjects had been placed in 18 rounds of questioning. Of these subjects, 75% of them changed their answers to the majority vote at least once. When under the influence of peer pressure, the subjects accepted the majority and conformed 36.8% of the time. 25% of the individuals who partook in the experiment did not conform at all. Many variables within the experiment made the conformity rate fluctuate. These variables among others were unanimity, and when faced with an opposition of only 2, minority subjects “accepted the wrong answer 13.6 per cent of the time. Under the pressure of a majority of three, the subjects' errors jumped to 31.8 per cent” (Asch, 657). Other variables included giving the subjects a partner to test whether or not this would affect or improve the subject’s independence. Asch surprised, reports that
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