He set out to study social influences and how social forces affect a person’s opinions and attitudes (Wren, 1999). After studying earlier psychologists, Asch noted that participants in these past studies often changed their differing opinions to those of the majorities, when confronted with opposing views. The results of the experiment showed that the answers given could to a significant percentage be influenced by peer pressure this was due to the fact that the participants that were not subjected to peer pressure gave the correct answers to all but one question.
On the other hand the participants surrounded by the fake participants giving wrong answers, invariably gave more wrong answers. Other scholars claim that at least 75% of the participants gave the wrong answer to at least one question. in as much as this would have been ruled out as an experimental error, it was enough to declare that peer pressure indeed can lead to conformity among groups.
Despite the progress made, there were criticisms directed towards the experiment.
The first criticism was based on the age of participants which reflected their level of experience in life related matters. Critics under this argument state that older participants would have provided better findings since they are more mature and have experienced different life situations. These accompanied by the fact that older people have more mental strength meant that they could have held to their convictions as regarding to what they believed was the true answers to the questions provided.
In addition to this, the participants were undergraduates and therefore more intelligent than the target population as a result this would have an effect on the results because the participants were not representative of the population and therefore the results could not be generalized.
The other critic is that according to recent studies, women have been seen to be more conformist than males.
According to Hills (2001) the Asch conformity had no ecological underpinnings. This simply means that the findings of this experiment could not apply in most real life situations because the environment under which it was conducted was controlled and there was no room for influence from other factors such as emotions, morals and personal perception. In summary, although there are many criticisms to this experiment, the experiment proved that one voice can undoubtedly influence other people into conformity.
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