The Asch Experiment - The Power of Peer Pressure

Asch’s conformity experiment was conducted by Solomon Asch. Therefore, the aim of his study was to reveal how someone’s own opinions can be influenced by social pressure from a majority group. However, the purpose of this academic essay is to criticize Asch’s 1951 experiment on group conformity. Hence, this essay will begin by giving out the background of the experiment and as well as to know the group conformity, thereafter criticisms of the study will follow in the main body, and lastly, the concrete conclusion will be drawn in.

The main reason for Asch’s experiment was to demonstrate the power of conformity in the group and to investigate if social pressure from a popular group can affect a person to conform. However, people who involved in his experiment pretend to be regular participants alongside those who were the actual and unware subjects of the study. In addition, he found that people were willing to ignore reality and to give an incorrect answer (Asch, 1956).

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Group conformity refers to the act of matching or sharing of attitudes, beliefs and behaviors of group norms. Moreover, these group conformities occur in the presence of others, or when an individual is alone due to the fact that, it guides their interactions (McLeod, 2018).

The first criticism on the experiment is that, Asch’s high levels of conformity which he found in 1951, were a reflection of American’s 1950s culture and which has more about the historical and cultural climate of the USA in the 1950s on the phenomena of conformity (Sherif, 1953).

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The second one is that, he used a biased sample because all the participants were male students who all belonged to the same age group. Therefore, this shows that, the study lacks population validity and the result cannot be generalized to females or older groups of people (Perrin, 1980).

Another criticism is that, the results of the experiment in the lab may not generalize to real world situations because many social psychology experts believed that, real world situations may not be clear cut as they are in the lab, and the actual social pressure to conform is probably much greater, which can dramatically increase conformist behaviors (McLeod, 2018).

Furthermore, the last criticism is that the experiment which was done, used an artificial task to measure conformity, judging line lengths. Therefore, how often can people face a making judgment like the one Asch’s used, when the answer is plain to see (Allen and Levine, 1968).

With what has been speculated in the main body, it can come to conclude that, Asch’s main purpose in his 1951s experiment on group conformity was to demonstrate or to investigate the power of conformity in a group. However, his study contributed to some studies but there is some criticisms such as biasedness of the sample.

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The Asch Experiment - The Power of Peer Pressure. (2020, Nov 21). Retrieved from

The Asch Experiment - The Power of Peer Pressure
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