Just a bit ago, badlydrawnjeff
brought up priming
, the concept that preparing people can affect perceptions, especially of ambiguous or even non-sense material. Fair enough, that.
I think we should, however, pursue this concept just a bit farther. Consider the following graphic:
Just about everyone who took intro courses in psychology knows this is the chief image used in the famous Asch conformity experiments
. In a nutshell, if you want a significant number of people to say that the line in the left-most box is the same length as lines A or B in the right-most box, all you have to do is have four people agree that this is the case. It doesn't matter that C is clearly of equal length; a significant amount of social persuasion will make a significant number of people conform.
The Asch study
simply had a single study participant in a study group of 5 to 7 other people, all confederates in on the study, confederates told to give either right or wrong answers. When the single non-confederate was asked to answer which line was the same after
the confederates all agreed on the wrong answer, 41% of them would agree with the wrong answer.41%
would say something just about everyone could see
With a little help from our friend technology, the Asch results ( Collapse )