• Research into conformity including Asch (1951) and his variation studies (1952, 1956).

Asch’s research into conformity was a series of experiments conducted in the 1950s that aimed to investigate the influence of social pressure on individuals to conform to group norms. The study has become one of the most famous examples of social psychology research and has had a significant impact on our understanding of conformity.


Asch used a group of confederates (researchers working with Asch) and a single participant to conduct the experiment. The participant was seated in a room with the confederates and asked to judge the length of lines presented on cards. The confederates were instructed to provide obviously incorrect answers in order to put pressure on the participant to conform. The participant was then asked to provide their own answer, and their conformity was measured by counting the number of times they agreed with the incorrect answer provided by the confederates.

  • On average, about 37% of participants conformed to the incorrect answer provided by the confederates at least once during the experiment.
  • The majority of participants (around 75%) conformed to the incorrect answer at least once when the confederates were unanimous in their incorrect answer.
  • When only one confederate provided the incorrect answer, only about 10% of participants conformed.

Asch’s research has significant implications for our understanding of conformity. The study demonstrates that social pressure can be a powerful force that can lead individuals to conform, even when their own judgment suggests that the group is wrong. The study also highlights the importance of group norms and the role they play in shaping behaviour.

Asch´s variation Studies

The Effect of Non-Unanimous Majorities

Asch conducted a series of experiments to investigate the effect of non-unanimous majorities on individuals’ judgments. In the first variation, the presence of a “true partner” who agreed with the participant resulted in decreased conformity to the majority. In the second variation, the withdrawal of the “true partner” increased the conformity to the majority. In the third variation, the late arrival of a “true partner” reduced the conformity to the majority. The results suggest that having support reduces conformity to a majority.

The Role of Majority Size

The researchers varied the size of the majority group from 16 to 2 and found that the majority effect disappeared when the opposition was reduced to one individual. The majority effect was strongest with a group of three, and larger groups did not produce greater effects.


Asch also found that the majority effect increases as the task becomes less clear (more ambiguous).


Asch conducted qualitative research after conducting his study and found that people are likely to conform to the majority opinion even if it contradicts their own perception, in order to fit in and avoid social discomfort. He found that participants in his experiments often gave incorrect answers to simple visual tasks to align with the responses of a group of confederates who purposely gave wrong answers.

Past Paper Questions

8 Markers
  • Evaluate Asch’s (1951) research into conformity (8) October 2019
  • Evaluate research into conformity. (8) October 2017