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Asch Lives On

Think you are immune to peer pressure, but APS Fellow and Charter Member Anthony Pratkanis shows that 60 years later people still cave under social pressure. Check out this replication of the famous “Asch Paradigm.”

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We’ve recently replicated the Asch experiment WITHOUT using confederates (Mori& Arai, International Journal of Psychology, Vol.45, 390-397: http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a922516755~frm=titlelink). We found female minority participants conformed but no males conformed. We also found a contradictory result that the conformity frequency did not differ regardless of whether the majority answered unanimously or not. These results threw doubts to the widely acknowledged findings of the Asch studies that came out from the experiments with confederates. The Asch findings should be re-examined with the ecologically-valid procedure Mori & Arai developed.

In replicating Asch’s CONTROL condition FOR STIMULUS CLARITY in a 2x2x2x2 factorial design, we found a main effect FOR STIMULUS AMBIGUITY among women; ergo, the most likely empirical explanation for their so-called greater conformity (i.e., informational influence). In fact, the only group to most closely approximate the high level of stimulus clarity Asch (1956) required was the condition that directly replicated Asch’s controls, namely: White Male 4-yr Undergraduates with a White Male Authoritative Experimenter.

Re “60 years ago” … Please NOTE: Much of Asch’s (1956) data were not collected in the 1950s, but rather in the 1940s following WW II (under an ONR contract); ref his preliminary report for the significantly modified Post-WW II paradigm (vs. WWII paradigm) in Guetzkow’s “Groups. Leadership, and Men” (1951) … Note also Asch edited portions of that report (by the same title) in Swanson, Newcomb & Hartley’s (Eds.) “Readings in Social Psychology” (2nd ed., 1952) prior to its 1952 republication.

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