Day#303: The Asch Conformity Study

Day#303: The Asch Conformity Study

Hey Researchers and Designers and today I wanted to talk about one of the first studies I read about long ago. This was before I was interested in UX, and I simply found it interesting from a psychology perspective. The study basically shows how when people are met with a decision, other people’s decisions affect their own. The study uses a simple activity of participants stating line lengths, and had confederates (people who are in on the study, who have specific tasks to carry out to assist with finding results.) The test participant would be placed after a few confederates, and in the first few rounds the answers stated aloud by confederates would be in exact relation to line lengths. However after some time, the confederates all changed their answer, they would all select the same outright wrong answer. The subject would then also change their answer. Alternate methods were done, where the subject had one person before them who would state the correct answer. This then influenced them in selecting a different answer, when subjects were asked afterwards about their decision none indicated that it was because of the person before them. Another alternate test was conducted, and had separated participants write their answers down on a paper after hearing other people’s answers. The fact that these subjects had anonymity in their answers assisted with them submitting the correct answers. Check out the video below on one of the original studies conducted.

Then check out this video below which explains the study and various human behaviors associated with it.

I found this study soooo interesting, the most interesting part is whenever you ask people they always indicate that they would never be the type to conform to something like that. Yes the study has not been done across all cultures and demographics, but it does certainly give insights into human behavior.

The relation to UX???

As researchers and testers, we should keep the Asch Conformity study in mind for when we test with participants, you don’t want one participant being tested and the next participant sitting and watching and perhaps listening to the answers that the first participant is giving. This goes for information architecture testing methods like card sorting too. Rather have people waiting in separate rooms if your venue allows for it, or indicate different arrival times far apart so that participants never hear or see one another. In regard to the card sorting, simply having participants spread out at different table stations with the various cards they need to organize can be enough to keep it separate, as well as not allowing participants to share ideas and comments with one another, as that may influence their choices as well. All in all one of my favorite studies and I would love to recreate it one day just for fun to see results from South Africans on these types of studies. Happy researching until next time Uxers.

Bye for now

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