Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Solomon Asch on Peer Pressure...

Psychologist Soloman Asch is best known for his research on conformity. One of his best known studies showed that social pressure can make a person say something that is obviously incorrect.

Subjects were told that they would be taking part in a vision test, along with a handful of other people in the room. The participants were shown pictures and asked to answer very simple and obvious questions.

The catch was that everybody else in the room other than the subject was in on the study. They had been told to give obviously wrong answers.

Asch wanted to see whether the subject of the experiment would go against the crowd, even when the crowd was clearly wrong. All the subject had to do was say which line on the right matched the one on the left (see picture). In other words, it would be hard to get the question wrong.

But 32% of the subjects would answer incorrectly if they saw that three others in the classroom gave the same wrong answer.

Sadly, the 32% figure would probably rise more with answers that are even less black and white. And I must confess that I’ve been known to doubt my own opinion when it seems to be different from the opinion of everyone around me.

It definitely makes for a very interesting study!

“That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong... is a matter of concern. It raises questions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct.” -Solomon Asch