Solomon Asch conducted several tests involving peer pressure to conform. This experiment is related to other experiments that we have already looked at, Stanford Prison and Milgram experiments. Asch wanted to see how peer pressure would work on people giving incorrect responses because peers were giving the incorrect responses. The experiment involved 8 people sitting around a table with only one of them being the actual subject the rest were confederates. The 8 participants answered a simple question of which line was longest or which line was similar to a reference line. The confederates would at first get answers correct and then start to get them incorrect thus giving Asch a reference point to see how much the subject was influenced by the other people.
The results were very interesting and showed that peer pressure could have a measurable influence on answers given. In the control group where everyone gave the correct responses there was only 1 incorrect response out of 35. On the other hand when "peers" were giving incorrect responses over one third of the subjects gave incorrect responses. At least 75% of the subjects gave the wrong answer to at least one question when the "peers" were giving incorrect responses.
Follow up experiments showed that with more confederates and the more forceful they were made a difference in the results. One confederate made little difference but influence increased as two or three were added. Also if one confederate disagreed with the other confederates it improved the likely hood that the participant would choose the right answer.
Some things to keep in mind is that the experiment was conducted on all young men who are more impressionable than older adults. However, younger subjects would most likely be more influenced.
This is a great study that shows that people can be easily peer pressured into doing things even if they know that what they are getting pressured into is wrong. People want to fit in. Very few people want to stand out from the crowd. In fact society generally punishes those who stand out, think about your "nerds" and "geeks" in elementary school.
So tell me how this relates to characterization.