The Asch Experiment: Can Social Influence Distort Your Perception?

We will conform to the group. We’re very social creatures. We’re very much aware of what people around us think. We want to be liked. We don’t want to be seen to rock the boat so we will go along with the group even if we don’t believe what people are saying, we still go along.” *

This is a conclusion from what is known as “The Asch Experiment,” an experiment originally conceived in the 1950’s by Social Psychologist Solomon Asch, demonstrated in the video below [2 min.]:

The 3 Levels of Distortion

As indicated in Martin Shepard’s video about conformity  [10 min.], “Asch proposed conformity could be explained by distortions occurring at any of three levels: perception, judgment and action.”

  • At the action level: subjects believe the majority are wrong, but go along with them anyway.
  • At the level of judgment: subjects perceive there is a conflict but reject their own judgment, concluding the majority are right.
  • At the level of perception: subjects’ perceptions are genuinely distorted by the majority’s answers”.
  • “If it’s true that the subjects’ perceptions are genuinely distorted, that means that group opinion has the potential to affect an individual’s information processing on a very profound level.” **

* Source: YouTube/The Asch Experiment

** Source: YouTube/Conformity 

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