Alternative MethodsConventional Methods


March 29

Safety in Numbers — Why Do We Feel the Need to Conform

Kristy Perkins
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 4 min.

Do you think of yourself as a conformist or a non-conformist? If you are like most people, you probably believe that you are non-conformist enough to stand up to a group when you know you are right, but conformist enough to blend in with the rest of your peers.

Imagine yourself in this situation: You’ve signed up to participate in a psychology experiment in which you are asked to complete a vision test.

Seated in a room with the other participants, you are shown a line segment and then asked to choose the matching line from a group three segments of different lengths.

The experimenter asks each participant individually to select the matching line segment. On some occasions everyone in the group chooses the correct line, but occasionally, the other participants unanimously declare that a different line is actually the correct match.

So what do you do when the experimenter asks you which line is the right match? Do you go with your initial response, or do you choose to conform to the rest of the group?

Solomon Asch’s Conformity Experiments

In psychological terms, conformity refers to an individual’s tendency to follow the unspoken rules or behaviors of the social group to which he or she belongs. Researchers have long been interested in the degree to which people follow or rebel against social norms.

Asch was interested in looking at how pressure from a group could lead people to conform, even when they knew that the rest of the group was wrong. The purpose of Asch’s experiments? To demonstrate the power of conformity in groups.

How Were Asch’s Experiments Carried Out?

In each experiment, a naive student participant was placed in a room with several other confederates who were “in on” the experiment. The naive subjects were told that they were taking part in a “vision test.” All told, a total of 50 students were participants were part of Asch’s experimental condition.

The confederates were all told what their responses would be when the line task was presented. The naive participant, however, had no inkling that the other students were not real participants. After the line task was presented, each student were verbally announce which line (either A, B, or C) matched the target line.

There were 18 different trials in the experimental condition and the confederates gave incorrect responses in 12 of them, which Asch referred to as the “critical trials.” The purpose of these critical trials was to see if the participants would change his answer in order to conform to how the others in the group responded.

During the first part of the procedure, the confederates answered the questions correctly. However, they eventually began providing incorrect answers based on how they had been instructed by the experimenters.

The study also included 37 participants in a control condition. This involved having each participant give their response to the line task with only the experimenter in the room and no group of confederates.

Results of the Asch Conformity Experiments

Nearly 75 percent of the participants in the conformity experiments went along with the rest of the group at least one time. After combining the trials, the results indicated that participants conformed to the incorrect group answer approximately one-third of the time.

In order to ensure that participants were able to accurately gauge the length of the lines, participants were asked to individually write down the correct match. According to these results, participants were very accurate in their line judgments, choosing the correct answer 98 percent of the time.

The experiments also looked at the effect that the number of people present in the group had on conformity. When just one other confederate was present, there was virtually no impact on participants’ answers. The presence of two confederates had only a tiny effect. The level of conformity seen with three or more confederates was far more significant.

Asch also found that having one of the confederates give the correct answer while the rest of the confederates gave the incorrect answer dramatically lowered conformity. In this situation, just five to ten percent of the participants conformed to the rest of the group. Later studies have also supported this finding, suggesting that having social support is an important tool in combating conformity.

What Do the Results of the Asch Conformity Experiments Reveal?

At the conclusion of the experiments, participants were asked why they had gone along with the rest of the group. In most cases, the students stated that while they knew the rest of the group was wrong, they did not want to risk facing ridicule. A few of the participants suggested that they actually believed the other members of the group were correct in their answers.

These results suggest that conformity can be influenced both by a need to fit in and a belief that other people are smarter or better informed. Given the level of conformity seen in Asch’s experiments, conformity can be even stronger in real-life situations where stimuli are more ambiguous or more difficult to judge.

Factors That Influence Conformity

Asch went on to conduct further experiments in order to determine which factor influenced how and when people conform. He found that:

  • Conformity tends to increase when more people are present, but there is little change once the group size goes beyond four or five people.

  • Conformity also increases when the task becomes more difficult. In the face of uncertainty, people turn to others for information about how to respond.

  • Conformity increases when other members of the group are of a higher social status. When people view the others in the group as more powerful, influential, or knowledgeable than themselves, they are more likely to go along with the group.

  • Conformity tends to decrease, however, when people are able to respond privately or if they have support from at least one other individual in a group.

Criticisms of the Asch Conformity Experiments

One of the major criticisms of Asch’s conformity experiments centers on the reasons why participants choose to conform. According to some critics, individuals may have actually been motivated to avoid conflict, rather than an actual desire to conform to the rest of the group.

Another criticism is that the results of the experiment in the lab may not generalize to real-world situations. However, many social psychology experts believe that while real-world situations may not be as clear cut as they are in the lab, the actual social pressure to conform is probably much greater, which can dramatically increase conformist behaviors.

Asch’s Contributions to Psychology

The Asch conformity experiments are among the most famous in psychology’s history and have inspired a wealth of additional research on conformity and group behavior. This research has provided important insight into how, why, and when people conform and the effects of social pressure on behavior.

Comments

Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
or
Services
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter
Sort
 

All categories

Spiritual Healing
$220 USD
I will do spiritual transformation for you

I will do spiritual transformation. Life occurs as a series of cycles in a single human lifetime. Cycles exist in almost a spiral pattern. There is a flow and …

Wisdom Realms
Chinese Astrology
$10 USD
You are not ALONE

Do you think it’s your fault you haven’t found your partner yet? Or that you are the problem because the relationship is not working? Do you feel isolated, set…

Carmen Oana Oglan
Spiritual Healing
$55 USD
1 Hr Intuitive Nutrition Coaching Call

Dive in and discover your biggest areas of struggle and how to tap into the intuition for guidance.
We will talk about your history and your goals for your wel…

Jess Olson
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Praying for the Sick and Depressed

Are you sick? Are you really depressed? Do you feel that your life is worthless?
Come book a session with me and see the changes that will occur after that.
Th…

Luck Richards Omorede
5
Chakra Balancing
$10 USD
Soul To Soul Reading Session

Energetic Reading

Complete Chakra System Reading to identify energy blocks.
Techniques are provided to restore balance.

What Is An Energetic Reading?

Debo…

Deborah Lucero
Spiritual Healing
$222 USD
Healing from Trauma at a Quantum Soul Level

Are you burnt out from clinical therapy practices that require years of treatment with few results? Are you ready to release and transmute your trauma once and…

LunaRio Silver Deer
Career Coaching
$499 USD
Reset 1-0n1 Coaching and Mentoring Programme

Are you returning to work after a career break, or are you looking for a new job or career change?

This programme is for you.

I’ve developed the RESET coachi…

Carla Martins
Life Coaching
$399 USD
1-on-1 Coaching

The journey started with our discovery call, and You decided: ” I’m ready! Let’s do this!”.

We will engage in 1-on-1 coaching sessions for 90 minutes. In this…

Carla Martins
Emotional Stress Release
$800 USD
Retreat( India): Connect With Your Inner Wisdom 1st to 4th Sept

Join us for an immersive experience anchored amidst the beauty and tranquillity of Kasar Devi, Almora, India

1st Sept’22 ( Thursday) - 4th Sept 2022 ( Sunday …

Aikyam
Psychic Reading
$80 USD
I will do oracle and tarot card readings

I will do oracle & tarot card reading in any area of your life. You will get answer from the Angelic, Elemental, Faerie or Galactic realms. I will share wi…

Wisdom Realms
Natal Astrology
$15 USD
15 min reading of SOUL structure

[SOUL STRUCTURE]Each soul has own structure,and knowing it means to have unlimited access to inner energy. This readings are telling about your talents and str…

Ksenia Jdanova
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Ask a Question?

Supportive reflection of a current question that you would like clarity around. Using the SMART method to seek quidance in stepping onto your path of potential…

Beverly Lynn
Reiki
$150 USD
Reiki Services (distant healing session)

In this hour long distant healing session I will use long distance Reiki, crystals and essential oils to balance your Chakras. Balancing your Chakras allows en…

Erin Kirby
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Intuitive Tarot Reading

Affordable Tarot reading to offer guidance on any given concern.

Elphie Shoppe
Telepsychology
$10 USD
Talk Therapy Sessions

Hello there: These times are dread. Do you need to talk with a safe professional about a troubling personal challenge? I am a professional listener and will li…

Eulalee Thompson
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Tarot Reading

I offer tarot readings with a 100% accuracy rate. The tarot is meant to give you advice, to point you in the right direction or to provide you with clarity. Bu…

Zara Kalil
Angel Healing
$10 USD
Mental Health Advice & Tips

I can help you with past issues and give advice and tips on how to better your life. I can see through my third eye and receive messageson what you need to do …

Beings Of Light
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Discovery call

Are you interested in supporting your health with safe and effective holistic medicine? Not sure if you should switch diets, work with a health coach or explor…

Suzana Da Costa
Wellness Coaching
$50 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Consultation

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Family Psychology
$10 USD
Psychic Reading

Expert in Love Relationship, Tarot Psychic Reading
I can give you more powerful insight of every part of your life. With the help of Crystal ball my Psychic re…

Aamir Bilal
Career Coaching
$195 USD
Holistic Lifestyle & Nutrition Coaching

ARE YOU TIRED? STRESSED OUT? STRUGGLING WITH YOUR WEIGHT? UNDER SLEPT?
LOST YOUR ZEST FOR LIFE?

If this sounds like you, then you don’t need a new diet… you n…

David Giddings
Bach flower therapy
$120 USD
Bach Flower Essence Consultation

Exploration of where you’re feeling stuck or limited in life and recommendations of Bach Flower Essences to help loosen and dissolve old patterns.

Suzana Da Costa
Cognitive-behavioral therapy
$100 USD
Subliminal therapy

In this service we will use Subliminal therapy and Sound healing as alternative to tradition cognitive behavioral therapy.

We are born with our thoughts. Do n…

Ahmed Amin Youssef

Related Articles