An Introduction to the Asch Conformity Experiment | Behavior Psychology

Asch Conformity Experiment
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Behaviorism is also known as behavioral psychology. This field takes up a systematic approach to understand the behavior of all animals and humans. This field further revolves around the basic idea that all behavior is learned. There are a number of different types of learning like classical conditioning, operant conditioning, learning through consequences, and many other types of learning. All these types of learning take place when there is a significant amount of interaction of the individual or animal with the environment. A large number of behaviorists believe that it is the interaction of the individual with the environment that shapes the behavior of the individual. The field of behavioral psychology is scientific in nature. And that roughly translated means that behaviorists and researchers from all across the globe try to conduct scientific experiments to further their knowledge of this field and human behavior. One such famous scientific experiment that was conducted in the field of behavioral psychology is the Asch’s experiments. The Solomon Asch’s conformity experiments are also known as the Asch paradigm and they were a series of experiments which were conducted by Solomon Asch. He tried to study the question of how and if individuals defied or yielded to the majority group. In this academic essay, readers will be able to learn about the results of Asch’s experiment and all the other details related to this study.

A Look at Conformity
Conformity is a type of social influence in which an individual changes his or her behavior and beliefs in order to fit in with the larger group. This change in the behavior of the beliefs could be caused due to the real or imagined presence of a larger group. Conformity is also known as yielding to some kind of group pressure or social pressure. There are also different types of group or social pressures and some of those different types of group or social pressure are criticism, teasing, bullying, persuasion, and many other forms of group or social pressure. Jenness was the first psychologist who studies the concept of conformity in the year 1932. However, the most famous experiment on conformity is Asch’s experiments which were characterized as being line judgment experiments.

According to Kelman, there are four different types of conformity. And those four different types of conformity are mentioned below.

    • Compliance: In this type of conformity, an individual might conform to the views of the majority publicly but the individual might not really agree with those views when in private.
    • Internalization: In this type of conformity, an individual shows conformity in both personal and public spaces. An individual might change his or her views or behavior to fit in with the group but they would also agree with those believes privately.
    • Identification: This can be considered as a type of compliance as the individual might conform to the expectations of any kind of social role. But in this case, it is not important for that individual to have a change in his or her private thoughts
  • Ingratiation: In this type of conformity, an individual conforms to the majority group to gain their favor, impress, or for acceptance.

These are all the different types of conformity.

Asch’s Conformity Experiments
Asch’s experiments consisted of some confederates who knew exactly what was happening in the experiment. These confederates had to pretend that they were the participants of the study when they were present around the actual participant. Then, an actual participant would be placed in a room with the Confederates. Then everybody would be told that they were going to take a ‘vision test’. The line task was then presented in which there were three different lines which were labeled as A, B, or C. The participants then had to tell which out of those three lines was matching with the target line. The Confederates were told what their exact responses were going to be. There were a total of 18 trials and in 12 of those trials the participants answered wrongly just to fit in with what the rest of the participants were answering.

Almost 75% of the participants answered wrongly to fit in with the answers. The participants were then informed about what exactly happened. And after concluding the experiment, the participants were asked why they had gone along with the rest of the group. Most of the participants answered that while they knew that the rest of the group members were wrong but they still answered wrongly because they did not want to feel ridiculous. There were also some members who answered that they thought that the rest of the members actually right. Hence, these results suggested that conformity can take place because of the desire of an individual to fit in or the belief of the individual that other individuals know better than the individual.

Results of Asch’s Experiment
As it was mentioned above, that in the majority of the cases individuals showed conformity. The results of the study also depicted that there were a number of factors which showed conformity. And some of those factors are mentioned below.

Conformity increases with the number of people present
This factor states that if the number of individuals who are present around the individual in focus increases then conformity also increases

Conformity increases with the increased difficulty level of the task
This factor states that the level of conformity also increases as the level of difficulty of the task which has to be performed also increases

Conformity depends upon the social status of the individuals present
This is the third factor and this factor states that the level of conformity also depends upon the social status of the people who are present around the individual in focus. If the people who are present around the individual are of higher social status then the individual might be more prone to showing conformity. But if the social status of the people who are present around the individual is perceived to be lower, then the individual might be less prone to showing conformity.

Conformity decreases when the answers are given in private
According to this factor, if an individual provides the answers in private then the level of conformity can decrease drastically.

There are many factors which can influence the level of conformity which might be depicted by any particular individual.

Criticism|
The biggest criticism of Asch’s experiments lies in the reason that the Asch gave the wrong reason for conformity. According to him, individuals were more prone to showing conformity to avoid conflict rather than to conform to the answers which were given by the group. Another criticism of Asch’s experiments lies in the fact that the experiments were conducted in a lab. Hence, these experiments cannot be generalized to real-life situations. There are also many other criticisms of Asch’s experiments.

The Conclusion
Behavior psychology deals with the basic concept of behaviors are learned. There are also a number of experiments which were conducted to improve the understanding of this field. One such experiment was Asch’s experiments that showed to depiction of  conformity. There were a number of confederates in the experiment who were told about the exact answer that they had to give. The participants were shows three lines and they had to select the line which matched the most. Most of the participants gave the wrong answer. In most cases, the participants showed conformity. There were also many criticisms of this study.

The References

https://www.simplypsychology.org/whatispsychology.html

https://www.verywellmind.com/behavioral-psychology-4157183

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychology

https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl

https://www.apa.org/action/science/index.aspx

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Behaviorism

https://www.simplypsychology.org/asch-conformity.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asch_conformity_experiments

https://www.verywellmind.com/the-asch-conformity-experiments-2794996

https://www.age-of-the-sage.org/psychology/social/asch_conformity.html

https://explorable.com/asch-experiment

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268688373_A_peer_pressure_experiment_Recreation_of_the_Asch_conformity_experiment_with_robots