Listen&Learn: The Asch Conformity Experiment

An experiment that tested how likely it is for a person to conform to the opinion of a group.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • conformity: the act of behaving the same way as others in order to fit in
  • psychology: the study of the mind and human behaviour
  • majority: most of the people in a group
  • participant: a person who takes part in an activity
  • individual: one single person

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

The Asch Conformity Experiment was a famous psychology meant to show how likely people are to agree with the majority, even if they know the majority is wrong. Solomon Asch, a Polish psychologist, conducted this experiment in 1951. He gathered some , who were put into small groups for the experiment. However, there was only one real volunteer in each group. The other people were . Asch would show the group two : one with a line on it, and the other with three different lines. One of the lines on the second card matched the line on the first card. He would then ask the participants to pick the line that matched. Every once in a while, the actors all picked the wrong line, and waited for the volunteer to say their answer. About 75% of the volunteers picked the wrong answer in agreement with the group. This proved Asch’s theory, that people are likely to trust the of a group over the opinion of an individual, even if they believe the group is wrong.

Comprehension questions

1. The Asch Conformity Experiment was meant to prove that

Correct! Wrong!

The Asch Conformity Experiment was meant to prove that people are likely to conform to the opinion of the majority.

2. In this experiment, each test group contained

Correct! Wrong!

In this experiment, each test group contained multiple actors and one volunteer.

3. The percentage of volunteers who agreed with the wrong answer was

Correct! Wrong!

The percentage of participants who agreed with the wrong answer at least once was 75%.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Why do you think people are motivated to agree with the rest of a group? Do you think it’s because they’re afraid of seeming unintelligent, or do people just believe that the majority is more likely to be right?

Transcript

The Asch Conformity Experiment was a famous psychology experiment meant to show how likely people are to agree with the majority, even if they know the majority is wrong. Solomon Asch, a Polish psychologist, conducted this experiment in 1951. He gathered some volunteers, who were put into small groups for the experiment. However, there was only one real volunteer in each group. The other people were actors. Asch would show the group two cards: one with a line on it, and the other with three different lines. One of the lines on the second card matched the line on the first card. He would then ask the participants to pick the line that matched. Every once in a while, the actors all picked the wrong line, and waited for the volunteer to say their answer. About 75% of the volunteers picked the wrong answer in agreement with the group. This proved Asch’s theory, that people are likely to trust the opinion of a group over the opinion of an individual, even if they believe the group is wrong.

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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