The pioneer of Gestalt psychology and Social psychology, Solomon E. Asch was born in Warsaw, Poland on September 14, 1907. Asch migrated to the United States in 1920 at the age of 13. He lived with his family in the Lower East Side of Manhattan learning English language by reading Charles Dickens. In 1928, Solomon Asch earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of the City of New York after which he went to Columbia University. At Columbia, Asch was mentored by Max Wertheimer who highly influenced Asch’s views on Gestalt. Asch received his master’s degree in 1930 followed by PhD in 1932.
When Hitler was in full power during World War II, Asch studied the impact and consequences of indoctrination and propaganda. During this time, Asch was a professor at the psychology department of Brooklyn College. Solomon Asch also taught at Swarthmore College for 19 years. Also at Swarthmore College, Asch worked with Wolfgang Köhler, a renowned Gestalt psychologist. Asch later received the prestigious title of Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
It was during the 1950s that Solomon Asch became famous due to his series of experiments better known as the Asch conformity experiments. These experiments showed the effects of social pressure on conformity. During this time, Asch became widely recognized for his theories on social psychology. Many of his ideas left a permanent impact on psychology. Solomon Asch served as the director and professor of psychology at the Institute for Cognitive Studies at Rutgers University from 1966 to 1972.
While Solomon Asch left many lasting impacts on the field of psychology, his studies on conformity also known as Asch Paradigms are by far his most recognized achievement. The purpose of these experiments was to prove the significance of conformity in social settings. Many following researchers were heavily influenced by Asch’s research and studies. Among these was Stanley Milgram who was supervised by Asch during his PhD at Harvard University.
Also among his greatest achievements is Solomon Asch’s textbook, Social Psychology (1952) which is an embodiment of his theories. More publications by Asch include, Effects of group pressure upon the modification and distortion of judgment (1951), Opinions and social pressure (1955), Studies of independence and conformity: A minority of one against a unanimous majority (1956) and Social psychology (1987).
Solomon Asch passed away on February 20, 1996 in Haverford, Pennsylvania at the age of 88.