Critique of Solomon E. Asch's "Opinions and Social Pressure"

Topics: Conformity, Science, Experiment Pages: 3 (1112 words) Published: October 9, 2013

Free Will vs. Peer Pressure
“Opinions  and  Social  Pressure”  was  a  study  by  Solomon  Asch   which  looked  into  the relationship  between  intellectual  judgements and social pressure. How does our non­conformity within  a group  affect  our  judgements  as  individuals?  Asch  attempted  to  answer  the  question  by  conducting  a series  of  experiments.  In  these  experiments,  the  subject  was  placed  in  a  group,  the  members  of  which were  shown  a  line­segment,  they  were  then  asked  to  identify  among  three  other line­segments one that has  the  same  length  as  the  previous.  The answer was indisputably apparent to the naked eye, what was not  apparent  to  the   subject  was  that  apart  from  himself,  the  rest  of  the  group  had  previously  been instructed  by  the  conductor  to  give  false  answers,  putting  the  subject on the spot of being a dissenter in an  apparently  straightforward  question.  Asch  then  concluded  that  dissenting  from  the  majority  did indeed  affect  the  integrity  of  a  person’s  judgement.  As  an  article,  the  content,  organization  and  style of this  publication  all  served  very  well  to  remind the audience of their vulnerability to alter their judgements according  to  public   opinions  without  substantial reasons to do so, especially given the historical context. However, as a study, the process of deduction was not without problems. The  content of “Opinions and Social Pressure” was effective in serving the purpose of reminding the  audience  of  how  our  opinions  can  be influenced substantially by social pressures. During the 1950s, the  hysteria  of  fear  of  communist  influence  infested  the  American  society.  This  was  known  as  the  Red Scare.  Anti­Soviet  and  Anti­Communist  propagandas  were  eminent  in  the  everyday  lives  of  the Americans.  Asch  remarked  the  relevance  of  the  article  as  he  claimed  “this  question  is  especially...
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