Opinions and Social Pressure
1. “Suggestibility” was first related to hypnosis in the field of psychology. It was, according to Hyppolyte Bernheim, an extreme form of normal psychological process. It meant that monotonous instructions given to some people can make them do undergo bodily changes involuntarily, like arm movements and sensations of warmth and odor. At present, suggestibility means the capacity of a person to base his or her perceptions on the perceptions of the majority, sometimes, altering his or her own ideas. In a sense, suggestibility is a measure of the amount of social pressure put on a person.
2. The Asch experiment is basically a group of people influencing the decision-making of a subject by the answers they choose. There are a number of variations of this experiment, like changing the number of the majority and their choices. Results show that some people would bend their own truths even if the answer is quite obvious just because the majority chooses it. This is the general conclusion of the experiment. The other conclusion is that the subject’s reaction varies depending on the changing variables of the experiment. 3.
The number of the majority affects the pressure applied to the subjects. Up to a certain point, increasing the number of majority increases their influence. When the subjects were given a “partner” who gave truthful answers, the subjects questioned the unanimity of the majority, making them more independent. 4. Asch argues that consensus is a requisite in society but needs individuals to function independently in order to be productive. Conformity, on the other hand, is the willingness to be influenced by the ideas of others despite their ideas being obviously wrong.
Summary of Opinions and Social Pressure Solomon Asch is best known for his contributions to the field of Social Psychology, which is also the title of his acclaimed book published in 1952. In his essay Opinion and Social Pressure, Asch talks about the effect of the majority’s decision- making over the minority through an experiment. The essay starts out by stating that a person’s behavior is influenced by the behavior of the people around him or her. Then, Asch presents the scientists who conducted relative studies in the past (i. e. , Jean Martin Charcot, Hyppolyte Bernheim, and A.
Liebault) on hypnotism, which would later be known as suggestibility or the tendency of a person to be influenced by the majority. These studies on hypnotism became the basis of future sociological studies and the birth of social psychology. The first experiments in social psychology were very similar to the experiment of Asch—a group of test subjects would initially give their opinions on certain things, but after being informed of the opinions of either “experts” or the collective opinions of a large group, they shift towards the opinion of the experts and the majority even when there are no proofs to their opinions.
These results prompted Asch to conduct further studies on the subject of social psychology. In one experiment, the “subjects” were shown two illustrations—one containing a single line, and the other, a series of lines of different lengths. The subjects were asked one by one to choose from the series of lines which match the other line in the separate illustration. All, except for the last subject, were actually actors in the experiment; they were all instructed to choose the wrong answer.
The findings were varied because of the different factors that were changed during the experiment, but the general result reveals that most of the real subjects copied the opinion of the majority despite the answer being so obvious. The conclusion of the experiment is that people are easily influenced by others and are willing to compromise their own beliefs just to conform to the majority. Work Cited Asch, Solomon E. “Opinions and Social Pressure” Scientific American. 193 (1955): 31-35. 23 March 2009 <http://cooley. libarts. wsu. edu/soc522/Asch%20Experiments. pdf>.Sample Essay of StudyFaq.com