Psychology: Chapter 15 Lecture
Asch’s Conformity Situation
Solomon Asch did some research to see the power of conformity and how big of an influence it
has on people’s decisions.
He had a group made up of confederates or stooges and 1 real subject. They were asked to look
at a picture of a line and compare it to 3 others lines and see which one of the 3 was the same
as the other one.
The stooges were instructed to give the wrong answer, and although the subject also knew the
correct answer he proceeded to give the incorrect one, he said line 1 even though line 3 was
This experiment shows the great need to conform, and the ways individuals in groups react to
1/3 of cases subject reports the wrong answer, 1/3 of people succumb to conformity even
though not a word is said to the person.
It is found that the number of people in the majority affects conformity. If it one person you
wont conform but if its 2,3,4, then it increases. But one you go higher it doesn’t make a
difference anymore, so conformity increases only to a certain point. So between 100 and 1000
people in the majority, conformity will not be significantly different.
2 other factors: unanimity: less likely to conform if someone else deviated from the majority
regardless of whether or not their answer was the same as yours or not. And commitment: less
likely to conform if you are more committed to your answer.
2 reasons why people conform: Outcome Dependence: the want to be liked, fit in and not
ridiculed: as observed in Asch experiment or Information dependence: the subject themselves
doesn’t know the answer so the turn to the majority for guidance.
Stanley Milgram’s experiment with the shocks being administered to the learner by a teacher
every time they student incorrectly answers the question. Conducted in 1962 at Yale University.
The shocks were punishment in a memory experiment.
Subjects 40 males between ages of 20 and 50 obtained from newspaper ads. The people range
in education and profession
Its basically a fake machine where the so called student or learner is actually in on the act with
the experimenter and the teacher actually becomes the learner. Electrode connected to them
but the teacher doesn’t know its a setup.
If you correctly buzz in the answer, your safe but if not you get a shock and the voltage of the
shocks increase for every wrong answer to XXX.
As each shock is administered, the “learner” wails and screams, he even says at the beginning
that he has a heart condition (which is a lie, but the teacher doesn’t know this) There is an extreme conflict happening inside the teacher: should i just stop now? Because this
man seems to be in a lot of pain, but the experimenter says I must go on the study depends on
Only 1/10 ppl would actually administer the highest shock is what was predicted by psychiatrist
but actually 65% of subjects would obey commands of experimenter fully so it’s an
underestimation of human obedience.
Conclusions: our behavior is under the control of the situation, are these people sickos or is the
authority so strong that people will succumb to the pressure?
Some people get emotional, show signs of nervous laughter and others start to get really
worried about the guy and say i wont continued until you tell me he is okay but they end up
At the end experimenter debriefs the subject and asks why did you go all the way, he answers
because you told me to. But don’t you care about the guys welfare, yea thats why i wanted to
leave but you didn’t let me. Well by the way it was all a fake.
Studies like this are no longer conducted.
Famous case of bystander apathy, NYC march 12 1964, 3 am Kitty Genovese a bartender
coming home, a crazy madman man follows her and she was stabbed and beaten while 38 by
standers watched from their apartment windows. The person who stabbed he may also have
been at the bar
There were 3 stabbing episodes 35 minutes in total and no one did a thing. Not even call the
Finally when someone called the police they arrived on the scene 2 minutes later so it was not a
mistake on their part but the bystanders. Why didn’t they do anything why are human beings so
A barber says i would have gone down and hit him with a baseball bat but i couldn’t hear a