Welcome to the Nexus of Ethics, Psychology, Morality, Philosophy and Health Care

Welcome to the nexus of ethics, psychology, morality, technology, health care, and philosophy

Sunday, January 7, 2024

The power of social influence: A replication and extension of the Asch experiment

Franzen A, Mader S (2023)
PLoS ONE 18(11): e0294325.


In this paper, we pursue four goals: First, we replicate the original Asch experiment with five confederates and one naïve subject in each group (N = 210). Second, in a randomized trial we incentivize the decisions in the line experiment and demonstrate that monetary incentives lower the error rate, but that social influence is still at work. Third, we confront subjects with different political statements and show that the power of social influence can be generalized to matters of political opinion. Finally, we investigate whether intelligence, self-esteem, the need for social approval, and the Big Five are related to the susceptibility to provide conforming answers. We find an error rate of 33% for the standard length-of-line experiment which replicates the original findings by Asch (1951, 1955, 1956). Furthermore, in the incentivized condition the error rate decreases to 25%. For political opinions we find a conformity rate of 38%. However, besides openness, none of the investigated personality traits are convincingly related to the susceptibility of group pressure.

My summary:

This research aimed to replicate and extend the classic Asch conformity experiment, investigating the extent to which individuals conform to group pressure in a line-judging task. The study involved 210 participants divided into groups, with one naive participant and five confederates who provided deliberately incorrect answers. Replicating the original findings, the researchers observed an average error rate of 33%, demonstrating the enduring power of social influence in shaping individual judgments.

Furthering the investigation, the study explored the impact of monetary incentives on conformity. The researchers found that offering rewards for independent judgments reduced the error rate, suggesting that individuals are more likely to resist social pressure when motivated by personal gain. However, the study still observed a significant level of conformity even with incentives, indicating that social influence remains a powerful force even when competing with personal interests.