Sunday Jun 15, 2008

Opinions and Social Pressure

Solomon E. Asch's "Opinions and Social Pressure" (Scientific American, Vol 193, No. 5, 1955) was probably one of the best papers I read during an organizational behavior class I took at Haas School of Business during my studies there. (Barry M. Staw has published the paper in his Psychological Dimensions of Organizational Behavior. The 2nd edition had the paper, and I'm sure Professor Staw has kept it for his 3rd edition. )

A BBC radio program gives very good summary of the paper and Asch's other research on social pressure and conformity.

The following video (posted on Youtube) presents a summary sense of one of Asch's conformity experiments:


Sunday Sep 10, 2006

Opinion as Worthless

Opinion, ultimately, is quite worthless. Real-world experience, on the other hand, has worth in "gold," some say, although this may also be an exaggeration.

Here's the other side: In a letter my father wrote to me in my 30s, when I had said I had finally come to realize the importance of experience, he noted that "experience does not help either." He seemed to be saying that there was some other source of guidance or that we had no such guidance.

Personal commitment and belief seem to come into the picture. Unless we commit something of ourselves, something that's of value to us, we're making no real transformations of anything.

Mental transformation ultimately flows from real-world interaction in the physical world.

So for example, it's better to go to a place and live there than to keep having opinions about it.

Once you commit your body, your opinions might change!
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