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One variable investigated by Asch was group size. He wanted to see how the size of the majority could affect the rates of conformity. These variations ranged from 1 confederate to 15 confederates. With 1 confederate, the real participants conformed on 3% of the critical trials, with 2 confederates the real participants conformed on 12.8% of the critical trials while with 3 confederates, the real participants conformed on 32% of the critical trials, which is the same percentage from Asch’s original experiment when 7 confederates was used. He found that increasing the confederates beyond 3 made little difference to conformity levels. This shows that a small majority is not sufficient enough for conformity influence, but does not necessarily need more than 3.
Another variable investigated by Asch was unanimity (the extent to which all the members of a group agree). He wanted to know if the presence of a non-conforming/dissenting person would affect the real participants’ ability to conform. By introducing 1 confederate who disagreed with the others, he found that it led to reduced conformity levels. The new confederate occasionally switched between correct and incorrect answers, finding that both led to a decrease in conformity - regardless of whether the answer was correct or not. In one variation, a confederate was instructed to give a correct answer throughout and conformity dropped to 5%. While in another variation, one confederate gave a different, incorrect answer to the majority and conformity levels still dropped significantly to 9%, although slightly higher than the condition with the correct answer. This shows that that if a real participant has support for their belief, then they are more likely to resist the pressure to conform as this is the answer they believe to be true, as they lack the knowledge and genuinely believe the majority is correct, or fear social ridicule.