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Condormity to majority influence

Key study: Asch (1956)


  • Asch conducted a lab experiment involving 123 male american undergraduates to test their "vision".
  • volenteers didn't know that the majority of those who took part where Conferates of the experimenter.
  • Asch showed a series of lines to the volenteers, Each had to read out which lines they thought where the same length.
  • Th real participants where asked last or second to last
  • On 12 of the 18 trials, the confederates were instructed to give the same incorrect answer
  • Showed?
  • on the 12 trials where confederates gave the same wrong answer 36.8% of the responses where given by the real particpants where also incorrect. (the conformed)
  • Only 25% of participants never comformed at all.
  • With out confederates the answer was correct 99% of the time.
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Asch's study continued

Variations of the study

  • showed that when the task was made more difficult conformity increased
  • the size of the majority was realitively improtant (provided it was over three) but the unamity was vital otherwise conformity would of dropped away everytime


perrin and spencer: had difficulty getting the same scale of conformity, they subsequently achieved this if they made perceived costs of not conforming appear high they concluded that Asch got the results he did because america at the time was under McCarthyism which was a strong anti Communist period

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Conformity to minority influence

Key study: Moscovici et al.


  • conducted a lab experiment with 32 participants with six women in each group, two women where Confederates and four were real participants. 
  • they where each shown 26 blue slides each slightly different
  • they where then asked to describe the colour.

Confederates consistently described  each slide as green, and in another they answered green 24 times and blue 12 times. I an control group, participants answered without any influence from the confederates  


the real participants went along with the minority on 8.47% of the trials when they were consistent in their judgments, but this dropped to 1.25% when the minority wasn't consistent. 32% went along with the minority at least once. 

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Wood et al.  

Carried out a meta-analysis of 97 studies of minority influence and confirmed that:

  • Minorities perceived as consistent were most influential 
  • majority group members avoided aligning themselves with a deviant minority because they id not want to be seen as deviant themselves 
  • majority group members were more likely to admit being influenced by the minority privately than publicly 
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Explaining minority influence

Conversion theory   - when an individual is exposed to an argument that contradicts their own views, this creates a conflict. they are motivated to reduce the conflict, and so examine the views of the minority more closely and to understand why these people do not hold the same views.

Evaluating Minority influence 

Majority rather than minority influence - Mackie argues that in fact it is the majority who are more likely to create greater message processing because of the false consensus effect. if the majority expresses a view that is different from that of an individual, they must consider it carefully to understad why its different. in contrast people tend not to wate time trying to process why the minority views differently 

Validity- the relevance of minority influence beyond the laboratory is not that clear-cut kelven and zeisal suggest that among juries ts the majority veiw at the time deliberation begins that tends to determine the final verdict. 

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