Asch Conformity Experiments

In the 1950’s, social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted experiments where he brought

a small group of people into a room and showed them two cards, shown here:

He asked the people one at a time which line on the second card is the same length as the line on the first card. An easy task, right? Well maybe not, as only one of the people in the group was the actual subject, the others were all planted there by Asch.

When the planted members of the group all began giving the wrong answer, the subject did as well. On average the subject’s error rate rose from less than 1%  when acting independently, up to 37% when influenced by the group.

So what does this mean for Shouldland? None of us like to think that we are influenced by peer pressure, and we all think that we call it as we see it. The Asch experiments support the theory that this just aint so. Shultz notes that that we conform like this unconsciously, that we don’t even know that we are making an error, when really it should be pretty obvious.

If we are this influenced by the wrong behaviours of a small group of total strangers, how much more susceptible are we to the influence of large groups of people we share a place, a history, and a culture? Our real tribes (family, friends and colleagues) have far too much influence on our beliefs and actions. This is Shouldland – living life the way others think that we should.

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One Response to Asch Conformity Experiments

  1. trokspot says:

    Yes, great experiments to bring up!

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