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What drives social conformity? (Asch's experiment)

Some time ago I participated in an article with my colleagues Alicia Pomares & Jordi Collell and Celia Hil called De luciérnagas a estrellas refulgentes (From fireflies to glittering stars). It was not intrinsically about social conformity, but on whats is known as "Solomon Asch syndrome," a condition derived from Asch Experiment. This pathology could be summed up as the fear of difference.

Solomon Asch (1907-1996) was a world-renowned and prestigious Polish-American psychologist known for his pioneering work in social psychology

Today I deal with the main reason of Asch experiment, This is social conformity.

What is social conformity?

In a simple definition, This is social conformity happens when individuals in a social group change their behavior, opinions and attitudes to fit the views of the group.

Many times, and unconsciously, we "relax" our criterion not to swim against the tide and avoid possible conflicts. And this is not something that happens occasionally, it's just installed in our routine.

In a more complete definition, psychologists Gil Rodriguez & Garcia Saiz, authors of "social influence processes." (Ed. Pyramid) nuance:

"We could speak about conformity for commission (act in the line pressing group), and default (not to act in a certain way because the group does not approve). So, It is more appropriate to use the congruence concept rather than movement, when we refer to a group ".

Asch's experiment

Asch conducted a set of experiments related to visual identification tasks. The task was actually simple: the subjects had to indicate which of the three lines of the card had the same size as the model contained in another cardboard.

This task was done in groups up to 9 people, and all, except for one (experimental subject and both "naive subject"), were accomplices of the experimenter. Accomplices were instructed to answer correctly in the first two trials and answer incorrectly and unanimous remaining (in the twelve critical essays), which they were interspersed by four other trials in which accomplices answered correctly. Subjects were publicly express their judgments in the order in which they were sitting. The position of the test subject, placed in the penultimate, allowed the views of most members of the group before giving your answer.

This video shows the sequence:

The results

The results were surprising, even for Asch himself. Although the task was simple social conformity occurred, so that the experimental subjects gave wrong answers in a third (36,8 by 100) of critical essays, which it did not happen hardly ever if they performed the task alone (control group) and, so, without knowing the views of others.

Most of the subjects indicated that they had been carried away because they believed that the majority was right, and they were wrong because they did not understand the instructions well or because their visual acuity was not good.

Only a subject which followed the judgment of the majority believed that the answers were correct.

Here is another video about social conformity in a tv show format showing identical results:

A small number were aware that the answers were incorrect, but they answered following most not be displayed alone or different.

Personal brand and relevant difference

As my professor, the social psychologist Dr. Ricard Faura says, "In social conformity is not only shame that people express, it is a profound doubt of their own criteria before the collective consensus".

We settle for not publicly display the difference. This is the fact. From the perspective of personal brand, not to show the difference makes us automatons dumbs. But just being different isn't everything...

I appeal to the relevant difference. When we work the value proposition we always wonder why they should choose us? And the answers are 1 It is because we can solve a problem or meet a need. And 2 because we do it in a different way. The two answers complement each other, both are needed.

Cover image by Iconic Bestiar on Shutterstock.com

What's new (Integra Personal Branding)

Although the news came several months ago, I inform you that I have the honor of being personal branding consultant and partner of Integra Personal Branding, the most important personal branding agency in Mexico and Latin America.

Staff Integra Personal Branding

We have been working together with Nancy Vazquez and Alan Urbina, founding partners, some time ago, and now part of my job will be to help develop in Mexico and LATAM the area of corporate personal branding (Executive Branding, Personal Branding and Employee Advocacy programs).

Our next collaboration is on the Dominican Republic from 29/5 to 9/6. We will run various workshops of Personal Branding and Employee Advocacy programs for companies such as Banco Popular and RE/MAX. We also plan to give two lectures on storytelling and social selling, within the framework of the #BrandingWeekRD, all coordinated by QUIFER Consultants (+ anabel@quiferconsultores.com).