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Asch and Social Influence

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By aidanbrame01
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The experiment is related closely to the Stanford Prison and Milgram Experiments, in that it tries to show how perfectly normal human beings can be pressured into unusual behavior by authority figures, or by the consensus of opinion around them.

For the experiment, eight subjects were seated around a table, with the seating plan carefully constructed to prevent any suspicion.

Only one participant was actually a genuine subject for the experiment, the rest being confederates, carefully tutored to give certain pre-selected responses. Careful experimental construction placed a varying amount of peer pressure on the individual test subject.

Asch Experiment - Figure 1The experiment was simple in its construction; each participant, in turn, was asked to answer a series of questions, such as which line was longest or which matched the reference line. (Fig 1)

The participants gave a variety of answers, at first correct, to avoid arousing suspicion in the subject, but then with some incorrect responses added.

This would allow Asch to determine how the answers of the subject would change with the added influence of peer pressure.

The Asch Experiment results were interesting and showed that peer pressure could have a measurable influence on the answers given.

The control group, those not exposed to peer pressure where everybody gave correct answers, threw up only one incorrect response out of 35; this could probably be explained by experimental error.

The results for the other groups were interesting; when surrounded by people giving an incorrect answer, over one third of the subjects also voiced an incorrect opinion.

At least 75% of the subjects gave the wrong answer to at least one question, although experimental error may have had some influence on this figure. There was no doubt, however, that peer pressure can cause conformity.

It was debated...

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