Asch's Study

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  • Aim
  • Method
  • Method
  • Asch wanted to investigate the effects of normative social influence in a non-ambigous situation, where there could be no doubt about the correct answer.
  • Results
  • Asch's experiment included one subject with 6-8 confederates. The subject was seated second to last in the order. The subject didnt know that the other participants were confederates and believed that he was taking part in a sight test.
  • Conclusion
  • The participants were shown a series of cards. On each card was a standard line, and 3 comparison lines of different lengths. The participants had to say which of the comparison lines was the same length as the standard line.
  • Criticisms
  • 75% of naive participants conformed and gave an obvious wrong answer at least once, with the average percentage of conforming to wrong answers being 36.8%. Only 25% of naive participants never conformed and gave the wrong answer.
  • Asch found that this conformity happened for 3 reasons: Distortion of perception, distortion of judgement and distortion of action. He concluded that both normative social influence and informational social influence played a role in conformity in the study, although NSI had the bigger influence.
  • One main criticism is that this study was a child of its time; conformity was very high in 1950's America. Also, the study only used american male students, so the results are probably not applicable to everyone. There is also the ethical issue of deception: the subjects were misled to the aim of the study so could not give informed consent.
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