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Solomon Asch
Born September 14, 1907
Warsaw, Poland
Died February 20, 1996 (aged 88)
Haverford, Pennsylvania, USA
Residence Poland (1907–1920)
United States (1920–1996)
Nationality Polish
Fields Psychology (Gestalt, social, cognitive)
Institutions College of the City of New York, Columbia University,
Swarthmore College, Harvard University
Alma mater College of the City of New York, Columbia University
Academic advisors H. E. Garrett
Notable students Stanley Milgram
Known for Social psychology (Social influence, conformity)

Solomon Eliot Asch (September 14, 1907 – February 20, 1996), also known as Shlaym, was a world-renowned American Gestalt psychologist and pioneer in social psychology.


Early life and education

Asch was born in Warsaw which then belonged to the Russian Empire, to a Jewish Family.[1] He emigrated to the United States in 1920 and received his bachelor's degree from the College of the City of New York in 1928. At Columbia University, he received his master's degree in 1930 and Ph.D. in 1932.


Asch was a professor of psychology at Swarthmore College for 19 years, working with psychologists including Wolfgang Köhler.

He became famous in the 1950s, following experiments which showed that social pressure can make a person say something that is obviously incorrect.

This experiment was conducted using 123 male participants. Each participant was put into a group with 5 to 7 "confederates" (People who knew the true aims of the experiment, but were introduced as participants to the naive "real" participant). The participants were shown a card with a line on it, followed by another card with 3 lines on it labeled a, b, and c. The participants were then asked to say which line matched the line on the first card in length. Each line question was called a "trial". The "real" participant answered last or penultimately. For the first two trials, the subject would feel at ease in the experiment, as he and the other "participants" gave the obvious, correct answer. On the third trial, the confederates would start all giving the same wrong answer. There were 18 trials in total and the confederates answered incorrectly for 12 of them, these 12 were known as the "critical trials". The aim was to see whether the real participant would change his answer and respond in the same way as the confederates, despite it being the wrong answer.

Solomon Asch thought that the majority of people would not conform to something obviously wrong, but the results showed that participants conformed to the majority on 37% of the critical trials. However, 25% of the participants did not conform on any trial. 75% conformed at least once, and 5% conformed every time.

He also cooperated with H. Witkin and inspired many ideas of the theory of cognitive style.

He inspired the work of the psychologist Stanley Milgram and supervised his Ph.D at Harvard University.


See also

External links

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