Asch Conformity


We often adopt or support false beliefs simply to fit in, even when we know something’s off.

This tendency, known as Asch Conformity, emerges from our deep-seated need to blend with the crowd—a psychological trait first spotlighted by Solomon Asch in the 1950s and replicated in different experiments over and over again.

Historically, fitting in was crucial for survival. Standing out could mean getting banned from the tribe and slaughtered by nature.

Conformity just was a much safer bet than expressing our true beliefs.

Today, our surroundings have evolved and disagreeing rarely leads to dire consequences. This old habit, however, still sits deep within us.

To one degree or another we’re all susceptible to Asch conformity. The more people endorse a belief, the more likely we are to publicly agree. Whether we really believe it is secondary.

We conform primarily for two reasons: to avoid looking foolish (normative influence) and because we assume the group knows better (informational influence).

Asch Conformity ties closely to phenomena like groupthink and the bandwagon effect. While our intrinsic desire to fit in isn’t vanishing anytime soon, recognizing and consciously designing against this bias is key — especially when you find yourself in group discussions or are trying to get a whole team to openly discuss issues and problems.

Here are 3 other concepts you might enjoy reading:

The Streetlight Effect

Via Negativa

Causal Reductionism