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Mark Twain once said "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." What does it mean to think for ourselves? How often do we base our choices and actions primarily on the choices and actions of others? The most common form of government, democracy, is based on "majority rules," as politicians know that people tend to go along with majority opinion instead of trusting their own thoughts and acting against the majority. Why do humans have such a social need to conform? A famous experiment by Solomon Asch tested how peer pressure to conform influences our judgment and individuality. The results and conclusions are rather frightening; the implications are even more so.

FTA: "In 1951 social psychologist Solomon Asch devised this experiment to examine the extent to which pressure from other people could affect one's perceptions. In total, about one third of the subjects who were placed in this situation went along with the clearly erroneous majority... Apparently, people conform for two main reasons: because they want to be liked by the group and because they believe the group is better informed than they are... Asch found that one of the situational factors that influence conformity is the size of the opposing majority... However, the subjects conformed much less if they had an "ally"... Apparently, it is difficult to be a minority of one but not so difficult to be part of a minority of two... Asch concluded that it is difficult to maintain that you see something when no one else does. The group pressure implied by the expressed opinion of other people can lead to modification and distortion effectively making you see almost anything."

Solomon Asch experiment (1958) A study of conformity


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Aug 9, 2010 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=287

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