Solomon Asch (1907 – 1996)
Asch was born in Warsaw, Poland, on September 14, 1907, but then decided to go to the United States in 1920 and received a Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1932. He was an explorer of gestalt(essence or shape of an entity’s complete form), relation-oriented approaches to perception, association, learning, thinking, and metaphor, as a pioneer of social psychology.
After looking the Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiment I wondered where the idea had come from and what other experiments were out there, this led me to Solomon Asch:
‘Asch’s most famous experiments set a contest between physical and social reality. His subjects judged unambiguous stimuli – lines of different lengths – after hearing other opinions offering incorrect estimates. Subjects were very upset by the discrepancy between their perceptions and those of others and most caved under the pressure to conform: only 29% of his subjects refused to join the bogus majority. This technique was a powerful lens for examining the social construction of reality, and gave rise to decades of research on conformity. Stanley Milgram’s studies of obedience to authority were inspired directly by Asch’s studies.’
The conformity of humans is so radical it’s sometimes hard to swallow but most of us know that if we had been in that experiment very few of us would have protested, especially back then let alone now where you are more likely to be ridiculed for being different or getting it wrong.
I also looked at other videos linked to social experiments, I came across this very interesting and humorous marshmallow experiment performed on young children.
The instant temptation they receive and pressure of time is interesting, as they are not entirely sure if the adult is going to come back let alone with another marshmallow, what if they don’t have time to eat it when she comes back? These thoughts must all be running through their minds and so the only rational and what seemed to be the most popular action was to wait a little while and then eat it, two is too greedy anyway right? This was less of an authoritative test and more of a personal test, one of instant gratification and in a sense mental strength.
‘The marshmallow experiment is a famous test of this concept conducted by Walter Mischel at Stanford University and discussed by Daniel Goleman in his popular work. In the 1960’s, a group of four-year olds were given a marshmallow and promised another, only if they could wait 20 minutes before eating the first one. Some children could wait and others could not. The researchers then followed the progress of each child into adolescence, and demonstrated that those with the ability to wait were better adjusted and more dependable (determined via surveys of their parents and teachers), and scored an average of 210 points higher on the Scholastic Aptitude Test.’