Asch (1951, 1955) tested conformity by showing participants two large white cards at a time. One card had a 'standard line' and the other cards had 'comparison lines'. One of the three lines was the same length as the 'standard line' and the other two were clearly wrong. The participants were asked which of the three lines matched the standard. The participants were 123 American Male Undergraduates. Each Naive participant was tested individually with a group of 6-8 confederates. The naive participant wasn't aware that the others were confederates. On the first few trials all the confederates gave the correct answers but later on began to make errors. All the confederates were told to give the same wrong answers. Each participant took part in 18 trials and on 12 'critical trials' the confederates gave the wrong answer. A trial was one occassion identifying the length of a standard line. 


The naive participant gave the wrong answer 36.8% of the time, overall 25% of participants didn't conform on any trials, meaning that 75% conformed at least once. The term Asch effect has been used to describe this result to the extent where participants conform even when the situation is unambiguous. When the participants were interviewed afterwards most of them said they conformed to avoid rejection (NSI). 


He was further interested in the conditions that might lead to an increase or decrease in conformity. He investigated these by carrying out some variations of his original procedure. 

1) GROUP SIZE- he wanted to know whether the size of the group would be more important than the agreement of the group. Asch found that with 3 confederates conformity to the wrong answer rose to 31.8%. The addition of further confederates made little difference. Suggesting that a small majority isnt sufficient for influence to be exerted but at the other extreme there is no need for a majority of more than three. 

2) UNAIMITY- he also wanted to know if the presence of another, non-conforming, person would affect the naive participant's conformity. To test this he introduced a confederate who disagreed with the others, sometimes the new confederate gave the correct answer and sometimes gave the wrong answer. The presence of a dissenting confederate meant that conformity was reduced by a


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