Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Haslam I 78
Resistance/conformity/Asch: (This entry is not about patients resisting a therapy but about personal strength when it comes to resisting the persuasion of a majority.)
Experiment/Asch: in his line-judgment studies (Asch 1952(1); 1955(2)) the participant finds himself within a group of others [who are no real participants but assistants to the experimenter, which the participant does not know]. Cards with lines of different lengths are shown and the group is asked to judge whether the lines are equal or different in length. After a while all of the group except the real participant judge in an obviously wrong way. >Conformity/Asch.
Haslam I 86
Resistance/Hornsey/Jetten: resistance is not simply the absence of conformity. Rather, it is a process that is quite different from conformity and guided by different considerations. Yet the idea that individuals are able to resist a majority that is clearly wrong has generally been of little interest to those who typically comment on Asch’s work. One possible reason for this is that social psychology in general appears more interested in what makes people conform than in what makes them dissent and show defiance in the face of group pressure (see Jetten and Hornsey, 2011(3), 2014(4)).
Haslam I 87
Majority/minority/psychological theories: There is a tacit implication in many of these experiments that those insubordinate subjects who are outside the hypothesis-confirming majority are a nuisance. (Jahoda 1959(5): p. 99; see also Moscovici, 1976(6)).


1. Asch, S.E. (1952) Social Psychology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
2. Asch, S.E. (1955) ‘Opinions and social pressure’, Scientific American, 193: 31–5.
3. Jetten, J. and Hornsey, M.J. (eds) (2011) Rebels in Groups: Dissent, Deviance, Difference and Defiance. Wiley-Blackwell.
4. Jetten, J. and Hornsey, M.J. (2014) ‘Deviance and dissent in groups’, Annual Review of Psychology, 65: 46–85.
5. Jahoda, M. (1959) ‘Conformity and independence’, Human Relations, 12: 99–120.
6. Moscovici, S. (1976) Social Influence and Social Change. New York: Academic Press.


Matthew J. Hornsey and Jolanda Jetten, “Conformity. Revisiting Asch’s line-judgment studies”, in: Joanne R. Smith and S. Alexander Haslam (eds.) 2017. Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Asch, Solomon E.
Haslam I
S. Alexander Haslam
Joanne R. Smith
Social Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2017


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2020-09-18
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