Paper Menu >>
Journal Menu >>
2013. Vol.4, No.11, 888-890
Published Online November 2013 in SciRes (http://www.scirp.org/journal/psych) http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/psych.2013.411127
A Questionnaire Analysis of the Asch Experiment without Using
Miho Arai1, Kazuo Mori2
1Department of Clinical Psychology, Tokyo Kasei University, Tokyo, Japan
2Institute of Engineering, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology, Koganei, Tokyo, Japan
Received September 19th, 2013; revised October 16th, 2013; accepted November 17th, 2013
Copyright © 2013 Miho Arai, Kazuo Mori. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Com-
mons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, pro-
vided the original work is properly cited.
Without using confederates, Mori and Arai (2010) replicated the Asch results with 40 male and 64 female
Japanese undergraduates in same-sex groups of four. One from each foursome wore a different type of
polarizing sunglasses so that he/she observed the standard lines differently form the other three partici-
pants, who played the same role as the majority in the Asch experiments. As expected, the minority par-
ticipants tended to conform to the majority. There was a gender difference: the female minority partici-
pants conformed, but the males did not. The present study reported the qualitative findings from analysis
of the responses on a questionnaire administered in the Mori and Arai experiments. It revealed that female
participants who conformed more than the males were less confident and felt more isolated and anxious
than the males.
Keywords: Correlational Analyses; Conformity; Gender Differences; Asch Line Judgment Tasks
Mori and Arai (2010) replicated Asch’s (1956) seminal study
on social conformity without using confederates. They adapted
a presentation trick in order to secretly present two different
stimuli to foursomes of participants in order to create minorities
(ones) and majorities (threes) without utilizing confederates.
The results showed that, in line with Asch’s basic findings, the
minority female participants conformed to the majority. However,
the minority male participants did not conform to the majority.
Mori and Arai (2010) reported only the quantitative results of
their experiment. However, they also administered a question-
naire comprising a similar set of questions to Asch who had
asked his minority participants in the pot hoc interviews (Asch,
1956). Instead of conducting interviews, Mori and Arai (2010)
administered a questionnaire containing 22 questions extracted
from the contents of the interview in Asch (1956). Among these
questions, respondents were asked whether they had noticed
any anomaly in the images, whether they had discovered any
visual illusions during the tasks, whether they had questioned
why others had answered differently, whether they were confi-
dent of their judgments, and whether they had tended to rely on
the answers of others when they were not confident of their
own judgments. It should be noted that the questionnaire was
administered to all of the participants, including the majority
groups in Mori and Arai (2010). In this article, the qualitative
findings from the analyses of the questionnaires administered in
Mori and Arai (2010) are reported.
Overview of Mori and Arai (2010)
Participants. Twenty-six same-sex groups of four, 40 male
(average = 20.75 year olds) and 64 female undergraduates (av-
erage = 19.83 year olds), participated. The experimenters did
the grouping from among members of the undergraduate par-
Experimental design. The study was a 2 (role: minority vs
majority) × 2 (gender: males, females) between-subjects facto-
rial design. The dependant variable was the frequency of errors
on the twelve critical tasks for each participant.
Line judgment tasks. The same nine stimulus sets that Asch
(1956) had used were reproduced and projected on a rear-pro-
jection screen. Three of the nine stimulus sets were used for
neutral trials in which the same stimuli were presented to both
the minority and majority viewers. The remaining six sets were
used in the critical tasks so that the minority viewers in each
foursome would observe the standard lines differently from the
other three majority viewers. In these trials, the top part of the
standard lines appeared in either green or magenta so that the
two groups of participants would see them differently through
polarizing sunglasses when the lines were projected with the
fMORI Technique. (Mori, 2007; See Figure 1)
Apparatus. The stimuli were presented on PowerPoint slides
with a personal computer (Apple iBook) and projected by an
LCD projector (EPSON ELP-730) onto a rear screen made of
plain ground glass (80 cm × 160 cm). The rear screen was set
about 1.4 m away from the projector. Four chairs were placed
in a row about 2 m apart on the other side of the screen. One
pair of polarizing sunglasses was placed on each chair before
the participants entered the experiment room. The minority par-
ticipant’s sunglasses were placed on the third chair.
Procedure. Participants were led into the experiment room
and asked to take a seat in one of four chairs, each with a pair
M. ARAI, K. MORI
of sunglasses on it. The seating order (answering order) was
randomly assigned before they entered the experiment room.
After they were seated with the sunglasses in hand, a female
experimenter (the first author) gave the same general instruct-
tions as Asch (1956) did.
After all the instructions were given, the experimenter told
the participants to put on the sunglasses to protect their eyes
from glare. Then the experimenter presented the line judgment
trials to the participants in the predetermined order. Each trial
took approximately 30 seconds.
After the line judgment tasks were completed, participants
answered the questionnaire and were then debriefed before lea-
ving the laboratory.
Questionnaires. The Asch (1956) conducted interviews with
participants after the tasks. Instead of conducting interviews,
Mori and Arai (2010) constructed a questionnaire containing 22
questions extracted from the contents of the interview in Asch
(1956). It is noteworthy that, since all the participants were
genuine in Mori and Arai (2010), the same questionnaire was
administered to all of them, including the majority students. It
took about ten minutes to complete the questionnaires.
Quantitative results in conformity. The results of Mori and
Arai (2010) showed that the minority females made statistically
more errors than the majority females. Those errors were as-
sumed to be conformity responses to the majority. On the other
hand, the male minority participants made errors less frequently
than the male majority participants. This showed that the males
did not conform even though they were put in the minority
situation (see Figure 2).
Results of Questionnaire Analyses
Question items and responses. All the question items with
the summaries of the responses are listed below. The total num-
ber of responses was 104.
1) Did you think the task was difficult?
[Very difficult = 3/ fairly difficult = 34/ average = 33/ fairly
easy = 14/ very easy = 20]
Diagram of the experimental setting. Participants
responded in turn according to a randomly pre-as-
signed order (1, 2, 3, and 4). The minority partici-
pants responded third. The greenish part at the top
of the left line can or cannot be seen depending on
the type of polarizing sunglasses worn.
2) Did the figures appear clear enough on the screen?
[Very clear = 48/ fairly clear = 16/ clear enough = 25/ not
very clear = 15/ very unclear = 0]
3) Did you feel uncomfortable wearing the sunglasses?
[Yes = 9/ No = 93/ blank answers = 2]
4) Did you feel content with your seating order?
[Very satisfied = 37/ fairly satisfied = 8/ neutral = 56/ rather
unsatisfied = 2/ very unsatisfied = 1]
5) Were you confident in your answers?
[Confident = 33/ fairly confident = 38/ average = 21/ a little
confident = 11/ not confident = 1]
6) Did you ever answer as the others did when you were not
sure about your choice? How often do you remember doing so
(out of 18 times)?
[Never = 77/ once = 7/ twice = 9/ 3 times = 7/ 4 times = 0/ 5
times = 4]
Average = 3.53/ SD = 1.26
7) Were you concerned about the answers of the others?
[Very concerned = 23/ fairly concerned = 49/ average = 2/ a
little concerned = 13/ not concerned at all = 17]
8) Did you notice that others gave answers different from
[Yes = 103/ No = 0/blank answer = 1]
9) How did you feel about others giving answers that were
different from yours? (Please choose as many as you like from
[Surprised = 23/ competitive = 3/ anxious = 38/ superior = 8/
embarrassed = 5/ suspicious = 37/ nothing particular = 28/ other
() = 0]
10) Did you have any thoughts that your eyes might be de-
[Often = 9/ sometimes = 41/ not really = 12/ not much = 26/
not at all = 15/ blank answer = 1]
11) Did you feel isolated during the tasks?
[Yes = 20/ No = 84]
12) Did you feel competitive with others during the task?
[Yes = 24/ No = 80]
13) Did you conform to other people’s answers? How often
do you think you conformed? (out of 18 times)
[Never = 88/ once = 8/ twice = 2/ 3 times= 3/ 4 times = 0/ 5
times = 1/ 16 times = 1/ blank = 1]
Gender difference in the error frequencies of the mi-
nority and majority participants in the Mori and Arai
Open Access 889
M. ARAI, K. MORI
Average = 0.41/ SD = 1.73
14) How often did you have difficulty in choosing between
two alternatives (out of 18 times)?
[Never = 11/ once = 10/ twice = 32/ 3 times = 22/ 4 times =
5/ 5 times = 15/ 6 times = 5/ 10 times = 4]
Average = 2.93/ SD = 2.15
15) Do you think it would have been easier to do this task
[Yes = 48/ No = 55/ blank answer = 1]
16) Do you think you would have stuck to your own answers
if the task had been measuring your intelligence?
[I strongly think so = 21/ I think so = 36/ I’m not sure = 30/ I
think not = 15/ Not at all = 2]
17) Have you ever heard of a psychology experiment like
[Yes, I know it very well. = 2/ I have heard of it in class. =
10 / I vaguely know of it. = 17/ I have no knowledge of it at all.
18) Which of the following do you usually consider most
when you make a judgment?
[My own ideas = 72/ opinions of my close friends = 12/ ob-
jective data = 13/ social consensus = 4/ opinion of elders = 2/
other = 0/ blank answer = 1]
19) Are you generally confident?
[Highly confident = 4/ fairly confident = 20/ average = 46/ a
little confident = 26/ not very confident = 6/ blank answers = 2]
20) Do you usually wear glasses?
[Normal vision without glasses = 39/ with glasses = 13/ with
contact lenses = 49/ blank answers = 3]
21) What color was the background of the slides you ob-
Those who observed Magenta: right answers = 49/ wrong
answers = 5
Those who observed Green: right answers = 43/ wrong an-
swers = 6/ blank answer = 1
22) Did you have any close friends in the task group today?
[Yes = 51 (average = 1.53)/ No = 50/ blank answers = 3]
23) What is your age and sex?
[20.18 years old: Males = 40 (average = 20.75 yr olds)/ Fe-
males = 64 (average = 19.83 yr olds)]
Task difficulty and uncertainty ratings. A significant corre-
lation was found between the number of errors and the diffi-
culty ratings (r = .36, F = 15.03, p < .01). The more difficult
they rated the task, the more errors they made. However, no
differences were found in the task-difficulty rating patterns
among male and female participants (r = .48 vs. r = .31). A
significant correlation was found between uncertainty experi-
ences and conformity (r = .46, F = 26.71, p < .01). Those who
felt uncertain more often during the task made more errors.
However, the same tendency was found among male and fe-
male participants (r = .37 vs. r = .46). Therefore, neither task
difficulty nor uncertainty was a relevant factor to explain why
female participants conformed more.
Less confident females conformed more. There was a sig-
nificant correlation between the number of conformities and
confidence ratings (r = −.53, F = 40.36, p < .01). Those who
made more conformity responses were less confident in their
answers. Also found was a significant difference in the confi-
dence ratings between males and females (
, p < .05).
Female participants, minority as well as majority ones, were
less confident about their answers than male participants
(, p < .05).
Meta-cognition of conformity. Those who conformed were
conscious of their conforming responses. There was a signifi-
cant correlation only among female participants between the
actual conformity rates and their meta-cognition (r = .576, F =
30.87, p < .01). The corresponding correlation coefficient for
males was .046, F = 0.08, ns). No other questionnaire items
showed remarkable disparity related to gender conformity dif-
According to the analyses of the questionnaire, the following
interpretations may be drawn. In general, females may be less
confident than males. It is natural that people tend to conform
more to others when they are less confident. Therefore, the fe-
male minority participants consciously conformed more to the
majority on the task in this study. They also felt more isolated
than the male minority participants.
However, since the questionnaire was conducted after the
task, the causal pattern might be the other way around. Those
who performed poorly on the task might have answered that
they were less confident because of their poor performance. It
would have been desirable to administer a questionnaire before
as well as after the task.
This experiment was done while the authors were at Shinshu
University. This research was supported by a Grant-in-Aid
from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Sci-
ence, and Technology (Grant No.16653054) to the second au-
thor. We wish to express out thanks to Rebecca Ann Marck for
her help during the preparation of the manuscript.
Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: I. A mi-
nority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Mono-
graph: General and Applied, 70, Whole No. 416.
Mori, K. (2007). Projecting two words with one machine: A method for
presenting two different visual stimuli using just one projector with-
out viewers’ noticing the duality. Behavior Research Methods, 39,
Mori, K., & Arai, M. (2010). No need to fake it: Reproduction of the
Asch experiment without confederates. International Journal of Psy-
chology, 45, 390-397.