Category Archives: Psychology

Football fans, the Media, and the Asch Paradigm


Ever heard of Solomon Asch?  He was a big football fan, and he studied people who hated “bounty” systems and believed what ESPN told them.  Ok, ok, not really.  But he would have studied them, believe that.

Asch was a scientist from Poland who did some pretty amazing studies on group conformity in the 1950s.  They were ridiculously simple, but they were eye-opening, especially to a bunch of zombie football fans who weren’t even born yet.  Calm down, I’m getting to it, just follow me for a minute.
He created these little drawings of lines.  One had a single line.   The next had three lines, one of which was exactly the same length as the line in the first picture.  And he asked a bunch of people to compare the two and decide which line was the same length. 
But here’s where it gets tricky.  He embedded the experimentees in groups of 6 or 8 or so people, but he didn’t tell the single study participant that the rest of the subjects were informed plants.  Asch had instructed them to unanimously choose the wrong line 12 out of 18 times.  They didn’t start until the third “test”, and the person under study was one of the last to answer.

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