Solomon Asch

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There is an inescapable moral dimensions of human existence. It follows that investigation must take account of that proposition.

Solomon Eliot Asch (14 September 190720 February 1996) was an American Gestalt psychologist who was a pioneer in social psychology.

Quotes[edit]

  • Most social acts have to be understood in their setting, and lose meaning if isolated. No error in thinking about social facts is more serious than the failure to see their place and function.
    • Social Psychology (1952), p. 61.
  • There is an inescapable moral dimensions of human existence. It follows that investigation must take account of that proposition. Yet psychologists have been among the most determined opponents of this claim, predictably in the name of what they deem to be science. They hope, at least in their technical activities, to be above the fray.
    • "Comments on D. T. Campell's Chapter", in The Legacy of Solomon Asch : Essays in Cognition and Social Psychology (1990) edited by Irvin Rock, p. 53.

Quotes about Asch[edit]

Sorted alphabetically by author or source
I judge Asch to be an antifoundationalist. … Consensus achieved where consensus itself has been the ultimate goal must be sharply distinguished from consensus discovered in the collaborative search for truth. ~ Donald T. Campell
It becomes clear that the Asch, Milgram and Zimbardo experiments replicated, in a compressed time, the dynamics of authority and groupthink that play a critical role in our socialization. ~ Toni Raiten-D'Antonio
  • I judge Asch to be an antifoundationalist. While the perceptions of the individual knower are to be respected, they are not infallible, but instead are context dependent, relative to a frame of reference. … If we are to be rationally authentic to our experienced purposes, we must retain the goal of knowing how the world is in a way that is the independent of our particular vantage point and limited frame of reference. In this regard, all consensus processes are not equivalent. Some of them, as found in science working at its best, can be seen to be rationally more likely to improve the validity of resulting beliefs. These are the ones that follow the Aschian epistemological morality. Consensus achieved where consensus itself has been the ultimate goal must be sharply distinguished from consensus discovered in the collaborative search for truth.
    • Donald T. Campell, in "Asch's Moral Epistemology for Socially Shared Knowledge" in The Legacy of Solomon Asch : Essays in Cognition and Social Psychology (1990), edited by Irvin Rock, p. 50.
  • Solomon Asch's studies of independence and conformity are among the most significant in the history of psychology. They are models of rigorous analysis of a socially relevant question based on a well-controlled research design.
    • James H. Korn, in Illusions of Reality : A History of Deception in Social Psychology (1997), Ch. 6 : A Voice of Independence, p. 69.
  • It becomes clear that the Asch, Milgram and Zimbardo experiments replicated, in a compressed time, the dynamics of authority and groupthink that play a critical role in our socialization. Asch showed that once the standard is set, people will adopt it and go along with it, even if it is illogical. When the stakes are raised, as they were in Milgram's work, people may struggle with unethical commands, but the majority still obey. And when authorities set parameters but leave the decision-making to the rest of us, we still have a tendency to impose strict control on those we consider deviant. All of these findings affirm the power of culture, socialization, and our widespread fear that we will be judged and punished.
    Since human beings have a desperate need for safety, approval, and belonging (which yields access to group resources), the worst kind of punishment is ostracism. This shunning may be subtle or extreme.
    • Toni Raiten-D'Antonio, in Ugly as Sin : The Truth about How We Look and Finding Freedom from Self-Hatred (2010), Ch. 8 : Difference as Deviance p. 89.
  • Asch found that fewer than 25 per cent of participants resisted conforming their reported perception to those of the group on at least some of the trials. However, there were differences: some individuals always conform to the decisions of the group, whereas others would conform only some of the time. Asch's research on conformity to group pressure had a significant impact on the field of group dynamics and anticipated Milgram's and Zimbardo's research on obedience. In this respect Milgram's work was a conscious continuation of the study of conformity pioneered by Asch.
    • Noel Sheehy, Fifty Key Thinkers in Psychology (2013), p. 21.
  • A pioneering social psychologist who studied how peer pressure shapes human behavior but believed that most people act decently when they are not shackled by ignorance … Dr. Asch's early experiments on compliance — the effects of social pressure on one's perception and interpretation of the world, and on how one forms impressions of others — are widely recognized as among the century's seminal studies in social psychology. … Prof. Henry Gleitman of the University of Pennsylvania's psychology department said Dr. Asch was a man who understood better than most how individuals can do regrettable things in the desire to get along but who nonetheless thought that "people would behave humanely, morally, if appropriately informed."

External links[edit]

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