The Power of Conformity

Being one of the in-group or following the crowd is a powerful motivator. Let me illustrate with a simple example. Look at the line labeled A on Card 1 in Figure 20.1. Picture its length.

Figure 20.1. The Asch Test

Now compare the length of line A with lines B, C, and D. Before reading on, answer which line is closest in length to line A? It's obvious – line B, of course. In fact, it seems so obvious it's hard to imagine anyone – unless he or she has a sight problem – ever giving any other answer. If you think this, you are wrong.

In the mid-1950s, the brilliant psychologist Solomon Asch ...

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