Thursday, October 6, 2011

Asch Study Variations

JSTORE: Sociometry, Vol. 30

The Asch study is an experiment where a group of confederates match similar lines (sometimes purposely incorrectly) and then a subject answers last. The subject's response is used to determine if there is group conformity.  This study was conducted again with more variables to consider not only the influence of the group but also that of the experimenter. The experiment was conducted with 4 conditions: 

"I: Neither the experimenter nor the group is in a position to observe the subject, thus only informational influence is possible.

IG: The group, but not the experiment, is in a position to observe the subject; thus both informational and group normative influence is possible.

OE: the experimenter, but not the group, is in a position to observe the subject; thus both informational and experimenter normative influence are possible.

IEG: Both the experimenter and the group are in a position to observe the subject; thus informational, experimenter normative, and group normative influence are possible" (Schulman 29)

The results suggest that there is a varying degree of influence from the group and the experimenter based on the status of the individual. One interpretation is that middle and high status individuals  are equally concerned with the group's evaluation of them, but that high status persons are more influenced based on the evaluations of the authority figures (Schulman 40). 

It's important to note all the conditions that go into group conformity. For example are individuals that know each other more or less likely to conform to the group? It seems that relationship may have a parabolic curve. If the individuals are newly acquainted there may be more conformity. After the friendship has weathered the storm there may be less conformity to the group and thus a stronger influence on satisfying the experimenter. 


  1. They say that people conform to the behaviors of others and social norms more if others are watching. (Insko, Smith, Alicke, Wade, & Taylor, 1985.)

    Munger and Harris (1989) performed an experiment where they analyzed how many people washed their hands. It was found that most women (77%) washed their hands if they believed someone else was in the bathroom compared to a (39%) who did so even if they were alone. If the Asch study was also performed in a way where contact with their peers was minimized, would the outcomes have been drastically different?

  2. To Rachel, I believe the outcome would be drastically different because of the text book's definition of "social influence" which states "the ways in which people are affected by the real and imagined pressures of others." The study on the women were separated from their peers or it was a single person bathroom, the outcome would be very different because they would not be influenced by the others.

    This being said, many variables could be added into this, such as if the bathroom were equipped with a loud blow dryer instead of paper towels and there was a line outside. The women would be influenced by the known presence of the women outside and the knowledge if they didn't wash their hands and activated the dryer, the others in the line would be aware of the lack of washing.