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The Asch Conformity Experiments

By , black-rose-bielefeld.de GuideOctober 25, 2011

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Imagine yourself in this situation: You've signed up to participate in a psychology experiment, which you have been told is a vision test. Seated in a room with the other participants, you are shown a line segment and then asked to choose the matching line from a group three segments of different lengths. The experimenter asks each participant individually to select the matching line segment. The experimenter starts at the end of the row, asking each participant one-by-one to give their answer. Each response echoes your own choice, and you give your answer when the experimenter asks for your response. A second line test is displayed and the same procedure is repeated.

On the third trial, however, something very odd happens. After the card is shown, you immediately pick in your mind the line segment that is the correct match for the original line. When the experimenter begins taking responses from the other participants, each person gives the wrong answer. Not only to they choose the wrong line, but they all choose the exact same wrong line!

So what do you do when the experimenter asks you which line is the right match? Do you go with your initial response, or do you choose to conform to the rest of the group?

The procedure above is similar to what psychologist Solomon Asch used in his famous conformity experiments during the 1950s. Learn more about Asch's conformity experiment in this brief overview.

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