69 Social Pressure

Based on Research by Solomon Asch, Ph.D., 1952, 1955. Psychology Science Minute written by Juanita N. Baker, Ph.D..

Are you embarrassed to express your opinion if it differs from friends or community, especially if you feel you are all alone in that opinion?  Social Psychologist, Solomon Asch, wanted to understand how people react to strong social pressure.

To groups of 6 people, Asch showed pictures one at a time, of lines with obviously different lengths.  Asch asked them “Which line is longer?” One participant was always asked to state his opinion last.  The other five were research accomplices. Asch instructed the accomplices to provide correct answers for the first few trials; then all give the same wrong answer.  The participant showed discomfort when his perception differed from the group’s statements.  Should he go along with the group’s odd response or state his own real opinion?

The outcome?  Although a third of the participants always stated the obvious reality, the majority of participants at one time or another went along with the group.  However, if just one accomplice stated the reality (contrary to the other accomplices who gave the wrong answer), the participant never went along with the group.

Be aware of and do not give in to social pressure. If you disagree, or see others doing harm or bullying, speak out.  Your one voice makes a difference!


Asch, Solomon E. (1952). Chp. 16 Group forces in the modification and distortion of judgments, (pp. 450-501). In Asch, Solomon E. (1952). Social psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ, US: Prentice-Hall, Inc. xiii, 649 pp. doi: 10.1037/10025-016

Asch, Solomon E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure.  Scientific American, 193, 5, 31-35.

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