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- Asch believed that the main problem with Sherif's experiment was that there was no correct answer so he questioned how could we be sure that a person conformed when there was no correct answer.
- He conducted the experiment to investigate the extent to which social pressure from a majority group could affect a person to conform.



- Asch placed a naive participant in a group with 8 confederates.
- 123 male US undergraduates participated in the 'vision test'
- The group was asked to match a 'test line' to the 'standard line' given ad it was obvious
- They then gave their responses one at a time out loud and the participant was last or second last.
- The confederates all gave the same wrong answer on 12/18 trials. The 12 trials were called CRITICAL TRIALS



- The control group only had an error rate of 0.04%
- On average 33% conformed
- Over 12 critical trials, about 75% conformed at least once; 5% conformed on every trial
- When interviewed later, he discovered that the majority had continued to trust their own judgement over the others but still conformed to avoid disapproval (NSI)


Evaluation: Temporal validity

- Asch's study lacks temporal validity and could be a child of its time
- 1950s could be seen as an especially conformist decade due to post war mentality of working together
- Psychologist conducted the test 1980 on engineering students in the UK and only 1/nearly 400 students conformed.
- This could be due to the calibre of students
- But this shows that the results are not consistent across situations or time thus making it unreliable


Evaluation: Ecological validity

- It lacks ecological validity as it lacks mundane realism
- Conformity usually takes place in a social context with people we know rather than strangers so this is not accurate
- Also the participants knew they were in a study so could have shown demand characteristics


Evaluation: Population validity

- Participants were all men so the results can't really be applied to women
- Research shows that women tend to be more conformist as they are more concerned about social relationships
- It was in America which has very individualistic culture
- When this was conducted in China the conformity rates were higher as China has a more collectivist culture
- Therefore Asch's findings are very limited and lacks population validity


Evaluation: Ethical issues

- It was heavily criticised on ethical grounds
- Deception was used as real participants were not aware that the rest were confederates
- This could lead to psychological harm as they were in a stressful situation
- Asch also debriefed them
- It was necessary to deceive participants to prevent demand characteristics which would make the study invalid


Variables: Group size

- Very little conformity with 1 or 2 confederates but when it was 3, conformity rose up to 30%
- Little change to the rate of conformity after this point


Variables: Unanimity

- When 1 confederate agreed with the participant, conformity levels dropped from 33% to 6%
- If 1 confederate gave a wrong answer that wasn't the same as majority, conformity dropped to 9%


Variables: Task difficulty

- When the test lines were more similar in length, the correct answer was less obvious
- The level of conformity increased as ISI was starting to have an impact
- Because they were more uncertain, they look to others for confirmation