I recently found out about the Asch Experiment, which brings to light a great deal about how our minds work psychologically when it comes to conformity. A large part of our culture today is perceived as being like everyone else – especially with social media telling us we need to have svelte bods, leave our day jobs to travel the world, and seek any type of fame we can get our hands on. Why do we feel the need to conform to standards which are set by others? The Asch Experiment gives us a glimspe into the answer.
In summation, a group of participants are asked to answer questions regarding visual judgements – specifically using a line and its length in comparison to others. All but one of the participants is savvy to the experiment and they are carefully instructed as how to answer. Most often the group answers correctly, however here is where things get interesting. At times during the experiment, the fake participants answer incorrectly, and blatantly at that. The actual lone participant who has no idea of the sway, also decides to answer incorrectly as to conform to the group.
The numbers for this experiment were quite interesting – many conformed to the wrong answer even though they knew it was wrong. I think you see where I am going with this! Many felt pressured to conform as they did not want to seem “strange” or “odd.” How many times have we gone with the crowd, even though we knew it wasn’t quite right for us? I am sure some are nodding as they read this. Hey, I am guilty of this too! I sometimes get caught up in the superficial things in life and need to take a step back to evaluate what is right.
This concept makes me who think of a woman named Essenia O’Neal, she made a video explaining her deepest feelings, which soon became viral. Her video spoke of the pressure she felt to be perceived on social media in a certain way, and conforming to society’s ideals. She shared how empty she felt spending all day taking photos, only for contrived posts for Instagram. This was all just so she could get more likes and follows, but inside she was incredibly unhappy being like everyone else.
Being different should be cherished. So next time you see someone going against the crowd, realize how challenging and brave that is! Celebrate those who choose not to be the same and accept them without conditions.