CONFORMITY IN THE ASCH EXPERIMENT: INNER-OTHER DIRECTEDNESS AND THE “DEFIANT SUBJECT

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Abstract:

McCarthyism of the 1950s was proposed by Larsen (1974) as an explanation for Asch's (1956) high rates of conformity. Larsen discovered low rates of conformity in his research. Riesman et al. (1950) would argue that conformity rates should be increasing rather than decreasing because of a growing predominance of “other-directed” personality types in modern societies, in addition, contamination of Ss could be produced by familiarization with Asch's widely known techniques and results. A replication of Asch's classic conformity experiment was conducted to examine three hypotheses: (1) the more other-directed, the greater the tendency to conform; (2) conformity rates in studies today will be higher than those in previous studies; (3) Ss familiar with the nature of the experiment from previous experience should conform more than Ss unfamiliar with the experiment. Hypotheses 1 and 2 were supported (p <0.001). Hypothesis 3 was not supported. The “defiant subject effect” is proposed as a possible reason for the lack of significance of hypothesis 3 and a partial explanation for Larsen's (1974) findings.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2224/sbp.1980.8.1.13

Publication date: January 1, 1980

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