Asch's Social Psychology: Not as Social as You May Think
AbstractThis article discusses 2 commonly held ideas about Solomon Asch's work in social psychology: (a) Asch was primarily interested in social phenomena in general and in group processes in particular, and (b) Asch was a forerunner of social cognition. Asch's studies on social influence were translations of strictly perceptual experiments. For him, social stimuli had no specificity relative to physical ones provided that the perceptual context presented similar structural properties. Moreover, and contrary to Kurt Lewin (e.g., 1948) Asch focused his attention at the individual level and may have slowed down interest in social interactions or group processes. Asch's studies on impression formation presaged the social cognition approach. In his work, he foresaw the importance of online processing of information, the existence of implicit theories of personality, as well as perception based on exemplars and prototypes. However, Asch's reliance on immediate perceptual experience, on isomorphism between the properties of the external object and the phenomenal experience of this object, and his holistic and dynamic perspective clash with the main stream of social cognition research.