Which Aspect Of Culture Tends To Decrease Rates Of Conformity

Asch’S Seminal Experiments Showed the Power of Conformity

The Asch conformity tests were a series of psychological studies conducted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s that explored the relationship between conformity and personality. The results of the studies indicated the extent to which a person’s own ideas are impacted by the opinions of other people. People were willing to overlook reality and offer an inaccurate answer in order to fit in with the rest of the group, according to Asch’s findings.

A Closer Look At Conformity

Do you consider yourself to be a conformist or a nonconformist in your thinking? The majority of individuals feel that they are non-conformist enough to stand up to a group when they know they are in the right, yet conformist enough to fit in with the rest of their peers. Individuals are frequently considerably more likely to conform than they think themselves to be, according to recent research. Consider yourself in the following situation: You’ve agreed to take part in a psychological experiment in which you’ll be asked to complete a vision test as part of your participation.

The experimenter asks each participant to choose the line segment that corresponds to his or her name.

How should you respond when the experimenter asks you which line is the best fit for his or her question?

Solomon Asch’s Conformity Experiments

When it comes to psychology, conformity is defined as an individual’s predisposition to adhere to the unspoken rules or behaviors of the social group to which he or she belongs, rather than breaking them. Since the beginning of time, researchers have been interested in the degree to which people adhere to or defy societal norms. When it came to group pressure, Asch was particularly interested in how people might be compelled to conform even when they were aware that the rest of the group was incorrect.

This experiment was designed to highlight the strength of conformity in groups.

How Were Asch’s Experiments Carried Out?

In Asch’s studies, persons who were “in” on the experiment pretended to be ordinary participants alongside others who were genuine, unsuspecting subjects of the study, and this was done in order to gather information. Those who were participating in the experiment would act in various ways in order to determine whether or not their activities had an impact on the real experimental participants. An unsuspecting student participant was placed in a room with many additional confederates who were all “in on” the experiment in each experiment, and the results were recorded.

Overall, Asch’s experimental condition included a total of 50 pupils in its many forms.

The naïve participant, on the other hand, was completely unaware that the other students were not genuine participants.

In the experimental condition, there were 18 separate trials, and the confederates provided wrong replies in 12 of them, which Asch referred to as the “important trials.” The goal of these crucial trials was to determine whether or not the participants would alter their responses in order to conform to the responses of the other participants in the group.

They did, however, soon start offering inaccurate replies because they were following the experimenters’ instructions.

For the purpose of ensuring that the typical person could properly judge the length of the lines, participants in the control group were instructed to write down the right match on their own paper.

These findings indicate that participants were extremely precise in their line judgements, selecting the right response 99 percent of the time.

Results of the Asch Conformity Experiments

Almost seventy-five percent of the participants in the conformity trials agreed to follow the instructions of the rest of the group at least once. After merging the results of the trials, it was shown that participants tended to conform to the wrong group response around one-third of the time on average. Furthermore, the research looked at the influence that the number of persons present in the group had on their willingness to comply. When only one additional confederate was present, there was essentially no difference in the responses of the participants.

The amount of compliance seen when three or more confederates were present was much higher.

The participants in this circumstance were only 5 to 10% of the total, and they did not conform to the rest of the group (depending on how often the ally answered correctly).

What Do the Results of the Asch Conformity Experiments Reveal?

The participants were asked why they had agreed to participate in the experiment once it was over, and they gave their responses. Although they were aware that the majority of their peers were incorrect, the students indicated that they did not want to risk being ridiculed. A handful of the participants expressed their belief that the other members of the group were accurate in their replies, and this was supported by the majority of the participants. As a result of these findings, it appears that conformity may be impacted by both the desire to fit in and the assumption that other people are wiser or more knowledgeable.

Factors That Influence Conformity

Asch went on to perform more studies in attempt to identify which elements impacted how and when people conformed to their surroundings. He discovered the following:

  • When a large number of individuals are present, there is a tendency for conformity to rise. When the group size is increased beyond four or five persons, however, there is no difference
  • Conformity also grows as the work gets more difficult to complete. When faced with ambiguity, individuals look to others for guidance on how to respond
  • Conformity rises when other members of the group have a greater social standing than the individual being conformed to. In situations when people see their peers as more powerful, influential or knowledgeable than they are, people prefer to follow the group’s lead
  • Yet, when people have the ability to reply privately, conformity is less likely to occur. In addition, research has shown that individuals’ conformity lowers when they have the backing of at least one other people in a group.

Criticisms of the Asch Conformity Experiments

One of the most significant objections leveled against Asch’s conformity studies focused on the reasons for which individuals chose to comply with the rules. Some opponents believe that people may have been driven by a desire to avoid confrontation rather than a genuine desire to fit in with the rest of the group. Furthermore, it has been argued that results obtained in the lab may not be applicable in real-world conditions. A large number of social psychology specialists argue that while real-world scenarios may not be as clear-cut as those in the lab, the actual social pressure to conform is likely to be considerably stronger, which can result in a substantial rise in conformist behaviour.

Asch’s Contributions to Psychology

The Asch conformity experiments are among the most well-known in the history of psychology, and they have spawned a slew of subsequent studies on conformity and group behavior. As a result of this study, we now have a better understanding of how, why, and when people conform as well as the consequences of social pressure on behavior. Thank you for sharing your thoughts! Thank you for taking the time to join up. There was a clerical error. Please try your search again.

Verywell Mind relies on only high-quality sources, such as peer-reviewed research, to substantiate the information contained in our articles. Read about oureditorial process to discover more about how we fact-check our information and ensure that it is accurate, dependable, and trustworthy.

  1. T.J.H. Morgan, K.N. Laland, and PL Harris. The impacts of uncertainty and consensus on the development of adaptive conformity in early children are examined. DOI: 10.1111/desc.12231
  2. Developmental Science, Volume 18, Number 4, Pages 511-524, 2015.
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supplementary readings

  • Asch, SE. “Effects of group pressure on the alteration and distortion of judgements.” Journal of Experimental Psychology, vol. The following article is in: Guetzkow H, ed.Groups, Leadership, and Men: Research in Human Relations. Carnegie Press, Pittsburgh, 1951, pp. 177–190. Asch SE is an abbreviation for “Secondary Education.” Investigations into independence and conformity: I. A minority of one in opposition to a unanimous majority General and applied psychological monographs are available. The Journal of the American Medical Association 1956
  • 70(9):1-70. doi:10.1037/h0093718. Britt, Massachusetts Experiments in psychology range from Pavlov’s dogs to Rorschach’s inkblots. Adams Media, Avon, Massachusetts, 2017
  • Myers, D.G., Exploring Psychology, Avon, Massachusetts, 2017. (9th ed.). Worth Publishers, New York
  • 2012
  • New York: Worth Publishers

Conformity and Obedience

  • Distinguish between normative social influence and informational social impact by describing the findings of research on compliance
  • Provide a detailed description of Stanley Milgram’s experiment and its ramifications.


As early as the 1950s, Solomon Asch performed a series of tests to establish how individuals are impacted by the attitudes and behaviors of others. According to one research, a group of participants was given a sequence of printed line segments of varying lengths: a, b, and c. The participants were then asked to complete a survey (Figure 1). After then, the participants were shown a fourth line segment: x. When asked to determine which line segment from the first group (a, b, or c) was the most similar in length to the fourth line segment, they were instructed to use the word “most closely.” Figure 1 shows an example of a formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formalized formal The judgment job in Asch’s conformance research is illustrated by the line segments in this section.

  • Choose the line on the right that has the same length as line x on the left.
  • Participants were divided into groups according to the number of real, naive subjects they had.
  • A confederate is a person who is aware of the experiment and who acts on behalf of the scientist conducting it.
  • True, naive participants think that confederates are also ignorant participants in the experiment, and they assume that confederates are just like them.
  • Each participant was then required to indicate aloud the line segment that most closely matched up with the target line segment in order to proceed.
  • As a result, how frequently do you believe the group has affected the participant and that the individual has given the incorrect answer?
  • Conformity is defined as a change in a person’s conduct in order to follow the group’s rules, even if he does not agree with the rules.
  • What are the variables that might raise or lessen someone’s willingness to give in or succumb to peer pressure?
  • What are the variables that increase a person’s likelihood of succumbing to group pressure?

According to research, the size of the majority, the existence of another dissenter, and the public or relatively private nature of replies are all important factors in determining whether or not people will comply.

  • The size of the majority is as follows: The bigger the number of individuals who are in the majority, the more probable it is that that person will follow the majority. It should be noted that there is an upper limit to this: there is a point at which adding additional members does not boost uniformity. According to Asch’s research, conformity grew as the number of persons in the majority increased—up to a maximum of seven individuals. Asch (1955) found that as the number of children reached seven, conformity leveled out and even fell marginally. The existence of a second dissenting voice: According to Asch (1955), conformity rates decline to near zero when there is at least one dissenter. The answers were either public or private, depending on their nature: The likelihood of conformity increases when replies are given publicly (in front of others)
  • On the other hand, the likelihood of conformity decreases when responses are given privately (e.g., by writing down the response).

As a result of the discovery that conformity is more likely to occur when replies are made public rather than private, government elections require that we vote in secret so that we are not pressured by others (Figure 2). When youngsters are required to cast a public vote for something, the Asch effect may be plainly observed in action. For example, if the teacher asks the class whether they would like additional recess, no homework, or sweets, once a few students vote, the remainder will follow the majority’s lead and do what they are told.

  1. When someone’s vote varies depending on whether it is cast in public or secret, this is referred to as compliance.
  2. Compliance is the act of complying with a request or demand, even if you do not agree with the request or demand in question.
  3. Voting for government leaders in the United States is done in private to decrease the pressure of uniformity, as seen in Figure 2.
  4. The proper solution to the line segment question was self-evident, and it was a simple effort to determine it.
  5. People who comply to the group standard in order to fit in, to feel good, and to be accepted by the group are referred to as normative social influence.
  6. When it came to the Asch conformity studies, what kind of social influence was at work?
  7. Instead, participants agreed in order to fit in and avoid scorn, which is an example of normative social influence in action.

Consider the following scenario: you are at a movie theater, watching a film, when what appears to be smoke enters the cinema from underneath the emergency escape.

When you are in a state of uncertainty, you will most likely observe the conduct of other people in the theater.

If, on the other hand, the rest of the audience appears indifferent, you are more inclined to remain seated and continue watching the movie (Figure 3).

(a) A lecture is being given in front of an audience, and everyone is generally calm, motionless, and attentive to the speaker on stage.

A modification of Matt Brown’s original work, and a modification of Christian Holmér’s original work, are given credit for in this section.

According to many students, they would refuse to comply, that the study is out of date, and that individuals nowadays are more self-sufficient.

According to recent findings, the total rate of conformance may have decreased since Asch’s research was conducted.

The age, gender, and socio-cultural background of the individual are among the considerations (BondSmith, 1996; Larsen, 1990; WalkerAndrade, 1996).

Stanley Milgram’s Experiment

In our ideas, feelings, and actions, conformity is one result of the influence of others on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Obedience to authority is another another sort of social influence to consider. The modification of an individual’s conduct in order to comply with a demand made by an authority figure is known as obedience. People frequently agree with the request because they are afraid about the consequences of refusing to comply with the request. We will look at another famous social psychology experiment in order to show this phenomena.

  • When asked about the crimes he caused, Eichmann responded with the excuse that he was “only following orders.” As a result, Milgram (1963) devised an experiment and first invited 40 men to participate in it in order to assess the validity of this argument.
  • The participants were informed that they would be tasked with instructing other students (learners) on how to correctly answer a series of test items.
  • The participants were instructed to shock the learners whenever they delivered a bad answer to a test question, with the understanding that the shock would aid the learners in their learning.
  • The participants were completely unaware that the learners were confederates and that the confederates were not really subjected to shocks during the experiment.
  • In their cries for aid, the confederate learners begged their professors to stop and even complained of heart problems.
  • So, what is it that causes someone to submit to authority to the point of potentially causing great injury to another individual?
  • The Milgram experiment revealed that people are surprisingly compliant with authority to a surprising degree.
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A number of modifications of the original Milgram experiment were carried out in order to investigate the limits of human obedience.

The number of participants who provided the greatest shock reduced to 48 percent when the experiment was transferred from a laboratory to an office building, for example.

In situations where the hands of the professors and students were in contact, the greatest shock rate decreased to 30%.

These changes demonstrate that when the humanity of the individual who is shocked is elevated, obedience decreases as a result of the shock.

This case is still highly relevant today, if not more so.

What happens if the individual considers it is improper, or worse, unethical, to do so?

A more senior midwife and supervisor then requested that the younger midwives perform a task that they had previously mentioned that they were averse to doing. The majority of junior midwives were deferential to authorities, even when doing so went against their personal values.

Link to learning

Here’s a modern-day version of the Milgram experiment to watch.

Learning Objectives

  • The next time you’re on an elevator, try out a conformity study on yourself. After entering the elevator, take a step back and turn your back toward the entrance. Check to see whether others behave in the same manner as you. Did your findings come out just as you had hoped? The majority of students are convinced that they would never have raised up the voltage in the Milgram experiment if they had the opportunity. Do you believe you would have declined to shock the learner if you had the opportunity? What proof do you have from your own prior conduct that you would comply with the instruction to increase the voltage?


The Asch effect occurs when the majority of a group impacts an individual’s judgment, even if that opinion is incorrect. a confederate is a person who works for a researcher and is aware of the experiment, but who does not take part in it; a participant is a person who does not take part in the experiment; employed to alter social circumstances as part of a research study’s overall plan Individuals who adjust their conduct to conform to the group’s expectations, even if they do not agree with the group, are said to be conforming.

conformity: altering one’s conduct in order to satisfy an authority person or to avoid negative repercussions


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Asch Conformity Experiment

Dr. Saul McLeod’s article was last updated on December 28, 2018. As part of his research, Solomon Asch carried out an experiment to determine how much social pressure from a majority group may influence a person’s decision to comply. It was his opinion that the most significant flaw in Sherif’s (1935) conformity experiment lay in the fact that there was no proper response to the ambiguous autokinetic exercise. In a situation where there was no proper response, how could we be certain that someone complied?

The fact that the participant gave an inaccurate answer would be obvious as a result of group pressure.

Experimental Procedure

Asch conducted a laboratory experiment to investigate conformity, in which 50 male students from Swarthmore College in the United States took part in a ‘vision test.’ Asch used a line judgment assignment to place a naive participant in a room with seven confederates/stooges, and the results were shocking. In advance of being given with the line job, the confederates had decided on what they would say in their replies. The genuine participant was not aware of this and was induced to assume that the other seven confederates/stooges were also genuine participants in the same way that they had been taught to believe.

The solution was always self-evident.

There were a total of 18 trials, with the confederates getting the erroneous response on 12 of the trials (called the critical trials).

An additional control condition in Asch’s experiment was one in which there were no confederates, only a “genuine participant.”


Asch counted the number of times each participant agreed with the majority’s point of view on a given topic. When put in this circumstance, on average, around one-third (32 percent) of the participants followed the manifestly erroneous majority’s lead and performed as instructed on the important trials.

Over the course of the 12 key trials, around 75 percent of subjects conformed at least once, with 25 percent of people never conforming. In the control group, where there was no pressure to comply to confederates’ wishes, fewer than one percent of individuals gave the incorrect response.


What was it about the individuals that made them so willing to conform? When they were questioned after the experiment, the majority of them said that they did not truly believe their conforming replies, but that they had done so out of fear of being ridiculed or deemed “abnormal.” A handful of them stated that they truly believed the solutions provided by the group to be true. According to research, people conform for two primary reasons: they want to fit in with the group (normative influence) and they feel the group is more knowledgeable than they are (empirical evidence) (informational influence).

Critical Evaluation

One disadvantage of the study is that it relied on a skewed sample of participants. All of the participants were male college students who were all in the same age range as one another. This indicates that the study lacks population validity and that the findings cannot be applied to females or older groups of people in a general way. Another issue is that the experiment utilized an artificial activity to gauge conformity – estimating line lengths – which was not representative of the real world.

  1. This indicates that the study’s ecological validity is low, and that the findings cannot be applied to other real-life scenarios involving conformity in the future.
  2. In doing so, he would be able to investigate the actual limitations of social influence.
  3. McCarthyism, which was an anti-communist witch hunt against anyone suspected of holding sympathetic left-wing ideas, gained popular in the 1950s in the United States, which was a conservative stronghold at that period.
  4. Evidence for this comes from research conducted in the 1970s and 1980s, which found that decreased conformance rates were seen (e.g., PerrinSpencer, 1980).
  5. As subjects, they used engineering, mathematics, and chemistry students to carry out an identical recreation of the original Asch experiment.
  6. Perrin and Spencer claim that there has been a shift in the societal importance put on conformity and obedience, as well as in the role of students in recent years.
  7. However, when comparing this study to Asch, there is a difficulty because the categories of subjects employed in the two studies are vastly different.
  8. In addition, there are ethical considerations to consider: participants were not shielded from the psychological stress that may result if they disagreed with the majority.
  9. (1963) acquired evidence that participants in Asch-type scenarios are extremely emotional.
  10. This finding also shows that they were in a state of struggle, unable to determine whether or not to disclose what they had witnessed or whether or not to comply to the expectations of others.

As part of the scheme, Asch fooled the student volunteers into believing they were taking part in a ‘vision’ test while, in reality, the goal was to see how the ‘naive’ participant would respond to the actions of the confederates. However, deceit was required in order to obtain reliable findings.

Asch Conformity Video Clip

The video below is not from the original 1951 experiment, but rather from a staged rendition for television broadcast in the 1970s.

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Factors Affecting Conformity

Asch (1952, 1956) conducted further experiments using a different approach (i.e., independent variables) in order to determine which situational elements impacted the amount of compliance (dependent variable). His findings and conclusions are summarized in the following paragraphs:

Group Size

Asch (1956) discovered that the size of the group had an effect on whether or not participants conformed. The greater the size of the majority group (number of confederates), the greater the number of persons who conformed, but only up to a certain extent. Group conformity climbed from 3 percent to 13 percent when there was only one other person (a confederate) in the group. When there were three or more people in the group, conformity increased to 32 percent (or 1/3). The presence of optimal conformity effects (32 percent) was discovered with a majority of 3.

According to Brown and Byrne (1997), if the majority number exceeds three or four, individuals are more likely to suspect cooperation.

Lack of Group Unanimity / Presence of an Ally

As conformity decreases when a group has five or more members, it is possible that the unanimity of the group (i.e., the confederates all agree with one another) is more essential than the size of the group. In a variant on the original experiment, Asch disrupted the group’s unanimity (complete agreement) by introducing a disagreeing confederate, causing the group’s unanimity to be broken. According to Asch (1956), even the presence of a single confederate who disagrees with the majority’s choice can diminish conformity by as much as 80 percent.

Allen and Levine conducted a research that found this to be true (1968).

Despite the presence of this ostensibly unskilled dissenter, compliance plummeted from 97 percent to only 64 percent.

The absence of group unanimity decreases overall conformity because individuals feel less need for social acceptance of the group as a result of the absence of group unanimity (re: normative conformity).

Difficulty of Task

By making the (comparison) lines more similar in length (for example A, B, and C), it became more difficult to determine the correct answer, and conformity grew as a result.

When we are unsure, it appears that we seek to others for validation of our decisions. The higher the difficulty of the work, the greater the degree of conformance

Answer in Private

Participants’ compliance falls when they are given the option to answer in private (such that the rest of the group is not aware of their response). This is due to the fact that there are less group pressures and that normative influence is less potent because there is no fear of being rejected by the group in this situation.

How to reference this article:

Allen, V. L., and Levine, J. M. (2001). (1968). Social support, dissent, and conformity are all important. Sociometry, vol. 138, pp. 138-149. S. E. Asch, S. E. Asch, S. E. (1951). Examining the effects of group pressure on the modification and distortion of decision-making. Groups, leadership, and men are discussed in H. Guetzkow’s (ed.) book. Carnegie Press, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. S. E. Asch, S. E. Asch, S. E. (1952). The role of group factors in the alteration and distortion of judgements is well documented.

  • E.
  • E.
  • E.
  • Investigations into independence and conformity: I.
  • Back, K.
  • D., Shaw, D.
  • F.

It is possible to understand experimental compliance by using physiological measurements.

8, no.


(in press) (1995).

Spencer, C., and Perrin, S.

The Asch effect: a throwback to a bygone era?

Sherif, M., and Sherif, C.

Sherif, C.


HarperRow Publishing Company, New York.

How to reference this article:

S. A. McLeod’s et al (2018, Dec 28). Solomon Asch’s Conformity Experiment is a good example of this. Retrieved It was retrieved from

Chapter 13 Flashcards

Term The real, imagined, or implied prescence of others Definition Social psychology is the scientific study of how a person’s behavior, thoughts and feelings are influenced by_. Term Definition Voluntarily yielding to social norms, even at the expense of one’s own preference, is called_ Term Definition Which aspecct of culture tends to decrease rates of conformity? Term Definition Close, friendly groups usually work well together, but they may face a problem involving an extreme form of conformity called_. Term Definition Many people hang up on telemakers, but others will listen politely to their pitches even if they are not interested in the product.

Telemarketers know that anyone who agrees to listen to a pitch is more likely to buy the product, thanks to the _phenomenom. Term Definition The tendency of people to comply with a second, larger request after complying with a small request is called the _effect. Term Definition A dealer persuades a customer to buy a new car by reducing the price to well below that of his competitors.

Once the customer has agreed to buy the car, the terms of the sale are shifted by lowering the value of the trade-in and requiring the purchase of expensive extra equipment.

This is an example of the _procedure. Term Definition What is the main difference between obdeiencec and compliance? Term His classic study on obedience. Definition Which statement best describes an important finding of Milgram’s classic research? Term Definition Dan really doesn’t feel like riding a stationary bicycle today, but he doesn’t want the people around him to think he is a slacker.

If he decides to continue exercising, what concept might explain his action? Term Definition A teacher decides against assigning group projects in which all group members get the same grade.

Trust me.

THis assumption would be sn example of the cognitive schema called_ Term Definition Your best friend has been acting rather cool toward you lately.

Which of these attributions illustrates the fundamentalattribution error? Term Definition A bank loan officer thinks people who speak with an accent are lazy; consequently he refuses to grant them loans.

His refusal to grant them loans is an example of_. Term Definition Scapegoats are usually the group of people with_. Term Definition A college instructor’s schedule has her teaching an honors section of psychology.

She responds,”This is the best class I have ever taught and the grade to prove it.” What concept might a social psychologist use to explain the high grades this class obtained and the teachers high opinion of the class? Term Definition We tend to_attractive people more than we do less attractive people. Term Definition “BIrds of a Feather” is a phrase that refers to_. Term Definition All of the following are Sternberg’s compnents of love EXCEPT_ Term Definition Which type of love is defined as passion only? Term Definition Over the years of passion has waned but they still stay together.

Sternberg would call this type of love_ Term Definition What term do psychologists use for the phenomenom that occurs when people are less likely to aid a person in trouble if there are other people around who are also potential helpers? Term Definition According to the research of Latane’ and Darley, which of the following situations would be the most likely in which someone would offer to help? Term Definition Which of the following individuals is the most likely candidate to join a cult? Term Definition Feeling, Behavior, Beliefs Term Definition tend to pay attention in particular situations.

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