IMAGINE YOU’V EVOLUNTEERED to be a subject in another scientific experiment. The year is 1951. You meet with an assistant of Dr. Asch on the campus of Harvard University. The assistant gives you a name tag to pin on your shirt and leads you into a conference room. She gestures for you to sit in a vacant chair on the far right of eight other subjects. You nod and smile to the other participants, and a few of them respond in kind.
You’re seated in a semicircle. The subject next to you is fidgeting with his pen. Two walls of the room are decorated with large, framed posters of Monet’s work. On the wall behind you is mounted a projection screen with the same thin, black frame that surrounds the posters.
Dr. Asch enters and remains standing on the opposite side of the dark conference table and places a briefcase in front of him.
“Good morning. This is an evaluation of judgment,” says Dr. Asch. “I’m going to test your visual perception.”
Dr. Asch removes two large cards from his briefcase and holds them up for you and the other subjects to see.