“Life is not valued for its length, but for its content,” wrote the wise Seneca. The same measure, probably, should be assessed the scientific heritage, the value of which is sometimes disproportionately higher than its volume.
During his nearly half a century of the scientific career, Solomon Asсh has written just one book with the simple title “Social Psychology” (1952) and three dozen articles. However, a rare psychologist has managed to make such a major contribution to our understanding of human nature. Let’s get acquainted with his analysis due to the summary of “Opinions and social pressure.”
The problem of influencing the social pressure on the behavior of people is extremely relevant and always of interest to psychologists. The systematic study of the phenomenon of conformance (the influences of the majority on the individual) was carried out by Solomon Asch in 1951. He highlights a lot of information about the problem of the group’s influence on the behavior of the individual.
A summary of “Opinions and Social Pressure.”
The experimental situation, modeled in the Solomon Asch experiment, was extremely important for the real situation of people communication. The essence of the experiment is the next: people are discussing certain issues when everyone has already spoken, they ask to talk about someone else. Solomon Asch discovered that a person in such a situation has either to suffer from group pressure or to inform his or her point of view. Solomon Asch had to discover the fact of how much the desire for adaptation changes the behavior of people.
The scientist limited his experiment to the field of perception. He studied the phenomenon of dependence on a group in controlled laboratory conditions on an example of simple problems of visual comparison. As a result, Solomon Asch conducted a well-planned series of experiments according to the standard options.
The experiment was organized and carried out thoroughly. He demonstrated the strength of the social-psychological law and showed how strong the influence of social pressure as well as group pressure is. In this simple experiment, people were able to discover the mistakes of other people and their rightfulness but nevertheless sought to adjust to the view of the majority.
Solomon Asch in his “Opinions and social pressure” also conducted a study in which one person from seven forerunners gave the correct answer. Under these conditions, only 5% of the researchers agreed with the opinion of the majority. Consequently, social support reduces compliance. When there is at least one person who is on our side, we can stay true to our position, resist group pressure and avoid conformance of the majority.
The scientist has discovered that the more attractive is a group to an individual, the closer the relationship of an individual with a group or the partner. In this situation, the partner is more willing to adjust his behavior and share the group’s position. The partner number one will be the person whom the group likes the most and who shares its values.
With an increase of the group, the tendency to conformance is increasing. The tendency toward conformance is strongly influenced by a group of 6-7 members, and for a further increase in the level of the dissenter, the level is evenly reduced. In the larger group, the partner gradually begins to doubt the sincerity of the group members and think about the conspiracy of the participants in order to exert pressure. By realizing such features, people begin to counteract the pressure.
The importance of “Opinions and Social Pressure” experiment.
The research of Solomon Asch on social pressure and on group pressure make a great impression because it demonstrates the socio-psychological mechanism of the partner dependence, even in those conditions where a dissenter clearly recognizes his or her rightfulness and the mistakes of other people. Collisions of communication become dramatic in difficult situations where the partner does not have a certain position, the issues that are being considered are rather complex, and the pressure of the interested group is quite powerful. Asch’s work has become an impetus for the study of the mechanism of social pressure as well as group pressure, which continues to this day.
Criticism of the experiment reduced to the fact that it is possible to organize an experimental situation with a status to real situations. The remark is that the participants are easily disappeared to unanimity with the partner because the experimental situation is too simple and not very important. However, the behavior of people is likely to change when it comes to important values for them or when they are open to discover the unknown information.
The experiments of Solomon Asch were not only approved of the majority of professional psychologists, which happens rarely but helped people to discover the truth of influence.