Solomon Asch Biography

Solomon Asch was a pioneering social psychologist who is perhaps best remembered for his research on the psychology of conformity. Asch took a Gestalt approach to the study of social behavior, suggesting that social acts needed to be viewed in terms of their setting. His famous conformity experiment demonstrated that people would change their response due to social pressure in order to conform to the rest of the group.

In a 2002 review of some of the most eminent psychologists of the twentieth century, Asch was ranked as the 41st most-frequently cited psychologist.

"The human mind is an organ for the discovery of truths rather than of falsehoods." --Solomon Asch

Birth and Death:

  • Solomon Eliot Asch was born September 14, 1907 in Warsaw, Poland.
  • He died February 20, 1996 in Haverford, Pennsylvania at the age of 88.

Early Life

Solomon Asch was born in Warsaw, but emigrated to the United States in 1920 at the age of 13. His family lived in the Lower East Side of Manhattan and he learned English by reading the works of Charles Dickens. Asch attended the College of the City of New York and graduated with his bachelor's degree in 1928. He then went to Columbia University, where he was mentored by Max Wertheimer and earned his master's degree in 1930 and his Ph.D. in 1932.


During the early years of World War II when Hitler was at the height of power, Solomon Asch began studying the impact of propaganda and indoctrination while he was a professor at Brooklyn College's psychology department.

He also served as a professor for 19 years at Swarthmore College, where he worked with renowned Gestalt psychologist Wolfgang Köhler.

During the 1950s, Asch became famous for his series of experiments (known as the Asch conformity experiments) that demonstrated the effects of social pressure on conformity.

From 1966 to 1972, Asch held the title of director and distinguished professor of psychology at the Institute for Cognitive Studies at Rutgers University.

Contributions to Psychology:

Solomon Asch is considered a pioneer of social psychology and Gestalt psychology. His conformity experiments demonstrated the power of social influence and still serve as a source of inspiration for social psychology researchers today.

Asch also supervised Stanley Milgram's Ph.D. at Harvard University and inspired Milgram's own highly influential research on obedience. While Asch's work illustrated how peer pressure influences social behavior (often in negative ways), Asch believed that people tended to behave decently towards each other.

Selected Publications by Solomon Asch:

  • Asch, S. E. (1951). Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgment. In H. Guetzkow (ed.) Groups, leadership and men. Pittsburgh, PA: Carnegie Press.
  • Asch, S. E. (1955). Opinions and social pressure. Scientific American, 193, 31-35.
  • Asch, S. E. (1956). Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority. Psychological Monographs, 70 (Whole no. 416).
  • Asch, SE (1987)Social psychology. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198521723


Rock, Irvin, ed (1990). The Legacy of Solomon Asch: Essays in Cognition and Social Psychology. Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805804404.

Stout, D. (1996). Solomon Asch is dead at 88; A leading social psychologist. The New York Times. Found online at

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