In 1951, Solomon Asch conducted a series of experiments with the intent of finding out how social pressure affects decision making and conformity in participants. He had 50 males participate in what they thought was a vision test. What the participants were not aware of was that Asch had confederates, or people acting as participants who were actually part of the experiment, in the room with them.
The task was simple: indicate which line was the longest of the three. The participant would answer last in the group. The confederates would answer first, and incorrectly on several trials. Interestingly enough, the participants went along with the obviously incorrect answer about 32% of the time. We can infer that this was due to the pressure and desire to be accepted by other group members, which we also call: conformity.
For more information, follow these links:
- Original Study: Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgment. In H. Guetzkow (ed.) Groups, leadership and men. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Press.