Solomon Asch (1951): Line Judgement Experiment

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  • Created by: Toni Lowe
  • Created on: 24-05-13 16:19
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  • Solomon Asch (1951)
    • Aim
      • He wanted to see if people would conform due to group pressure. He used and experiment that had a definite answer as he believed that the line task in Sherif's study was ambiguous.
    • Procedure
      • A Lab study was used.
        • He used the line judgement task, where the participants had to call out in turn which of the three lines was the same length as a target line.
          • A naive participant was put in a room with seven confederates. The confederates had agreed in advance what their responses would be when presented with the line task.
            • The answer to this test was always obvious and the real participant always sat at the end of the row, giving their answer last.
              • In some of the trials, the confederates gave the wrong answer. There were 18 trials in total and the confederates gave the same wrong  answer in 12 of the trials.
                • Asch was interested in seeing if the real participant would conform to the majority view.
    • Findings
      • Participants conformed to the unanimous incorrect answer on 32% of the critical trials.
      • 74% of participants conformed at least once.
    • Conclusion
      • When the participants were interviewed after the experiment, most of them said that they did not really believe their conforming answers, but had gone along with the group for fear of being ridiculed or thought of as  "peculiar".
        • A few of them said that they really did believe the group's answers were correct.
    • Evaluation
      • Advantages
        • Unlike that of Sherif (1935), the test in this study had a definite answer.
        • Reliability
          • Because of the definite answer in this test and the effectiveness, it is very likely to be able to be repeated and acquire the same or similar results.
        • Control
          • Due to this experiment being a laboratory study, Asch was able to control the task as well as the responses given by the confederates.
        • Extraneous  variables
          • There will be no input from extraneous variables due to the high level of control that the researcher has over the variables and the experiment.
      • Disadvantages
        • Deceit
          • The real participants were led to believe that the confederates were also participants. Also, the participants would not have known the true aim of the study, as not to risk having the "screw you" effect occur.
        • Bias
          • Naive male college students were used for this study so the results may be classed as subjective.
        • Generalisability
          • Due to the participants only being naive male college students, the results cannot be generalised to people who do not come into that category.
        • The time and place when the research was carried out may have affected the results. The 1950s USA was very conservative, involved in an anticommunist witch hunt against anyone who held left wing views. (known as McCarthyism).
        • Asch only found a 32% conformity rate. This is not a significant enough number for the researchers to be able to say that they found anything as most people in fact did not conform.
        • Ecological validity
          • Due to this experiment being a laboratory experiment, it cannot easily be generalised to real life as it was conducted in an unrealistic environment.
        • Researcher bias
          • Due to their only being one researcher it could be possible that the researcher may have set up the study in a way that would acquire the results that he expects to obtain.
        • Demand characteristics
          • In the test that was conducted, due to the researcher being present, participants may have picked up on subtle cues that the researcher  gave off and act accordingly.
        • Informed consent
          • Due to participants not knowing the true aim of the study it would be hard for them to give fully informed consent.
        • Right to withdraw
          • The researcher would have to make it clear with the participants that they have the right to withdraw themselves and their data from the study. However, this may be a problem as the participants would not have known the true aim of the study, meaning that they would not have had the proper chance to say whether or not they wanted to be part of the study (link with informed consent).
            • It can often be hard to withdraw one's self from this type of experiment as participants may feel obliged to continue.

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