“From 1951-1958, social psychologist Solomon Asch conducted experiments to explore individual conformity to group pressure. He told subjects that he was conducting a vision test. He showed subjects a single line and then asked the subjects to compare the single line to a set of three lines and to identify which of the three lines was the same length as the single line.
The correct answer was always obvious, and subjects had no trouble getting the right answer – when they were alone.
Asch had actors pretending to be fellow-subjects come into the room to “take the test” with a real subject, but he had the actors give the wrong answers.
If there were only one or two actors giving the wrong answers, the subjects typically continued to give the obvious, correct answer. But when there were three or more actors in the room, all giving the wrong answers before it was the subjects’ turn to answer, the subjects began conforming to group opinion and gave the obviously wrong answer 33% of the time.
However, when there was at least one actor giving the correct answer before the subjects’ turn to answer came up, the subjects reverted back to giving the correct answer.”
What are your thoughts on this experiment? Why did those people give the wrong answer when it was obvious what the right answer was? Do you think this experiment says something more general about the way we think or act in group situations?
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