Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task

Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task,10.1037//0033-2909.119.1.111,Psychological Bulletin,R

Culture and conformity: A meta-analysis of studies using Asch's (1952b, 1956) line judgment task   (Citations: 174)
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A meta-analysis of conformity studies using an Asch-type line judgment task (1952b, 1956) was conducted to investigate whether the level of conformity has changed over time and whether it is related cross-culturally to individualism-collectivism. The literature search produced 133 studies drawn from 17 countries. An analysis of U.S. studies found that conformity has declined since the 1950s. Results from 3 surveys were used to assess a country's individualism-collectivism, and for each survey the measures were found to be significantly related to conformity. Collectivist countries tended to show higher levels of conformity than individualist countries. Conformity research must attend more to cultural variables and to their role in the processes involved in social influence. The view has long been held that conformity is to some extent a product of cultural conditions, and it is a stable feature of popular stereotypes that some national groups are conforming and submissive, whereas others are independent and self-asser- tive (e.g., Peabody, 1985). Likewise, the extent to which dissi- dence is tolerated in a society will vary at different points in its history, and several commentators have suggested that the relatively high levels of conformity found in experiments con- ducted in the early 1950s (notably Asch, 1952b, 1956) was in part a product of the McCarthy era (e.g., Larsen, 1974; Mann, 1980; Perrin & Spencer, 1981). Although Asch's (1952b, 1956) seminal research is often in- terpreted as demonstrating that conformity is fundamental to group processes (Friend, Rafferty, & Bramel, 1990), Asch was as much concerned with those factors that enabled individuals to resist group pressure, factors which he saw as rooted in a society's values and socialization practices. That we have found the tendency to conformity in our society so strong that reasonably intelligent and well-meaning young people are willing to call White Black is a matter of concern. It raises ques- tions about our ways of education and about the values that guide our conduct. (Asch, 1955, p. 34) He felt that conformity can "pollute" the social process and that it is important for a society to foster values of independence in its citizens. The cultural conditions underpinning conformity have, then, been a long-standing concern and are important for theories of social influence. Yet, as Moscovici (1985) noted, cultural as-
Journal: Psychological Bulletin - PSYCHOL BULL , vol. 119, no. 1, pp. 111-137, 1996
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