In both Norway and France this overt social criticism Significantly increased conformity. In France subjects now went along with the majority on 59 per cent of the critical trials. In Norway the percentage rose to 75 per cent. But the reactions of subjects in the two countries was even more striking. In Norway subjects accepted the criticism impassively. In France, however, more than half the subjects made some retaliatory response of their own when the group criticized them. Two French students, one from the Vosges mountain district and the other from the Department of Eure-et-Loire, became so enraged they directed a stream of abusive language at their taunters.
Even after we explained in the interview session that the entire experimental procedure had been recorded on tape, many of the subjects did not believe us. They could not understand how we could interject comments with such verisimilitude, particularly since we could not predict how they would respond at any given moment. This was achieved by making use of two tape recorders. One played the standard tape containing tones and the group judgments, with "dead" time for the subject; the other contained only the set of "criticisms " from members of the group. The two instruments could be controlled independently, allowing us to inject a remark whenever the subject's responses made it appropriate. The remarks followed the subject's independent responses immediately, creating a highly spontaneous effect.
Another series of experiments was designed to aid in the interpretation of the earlier findings. For example, many Norwegian subjects rationalized their behavior by stating in the interview that they went along with the others because they doubted their own judgment, and that if they had been given a chance to dispel this doubt they would have been more independent. An experiment was therefore carried out to test this notion. The subject was given a chance to reexamine the stimulus materials before giving his final judgment. He did this by sounding a bell in his booth whenever he wished to hear a pair of tones again. As before, the subject was openly censured by the group if he failed to conform, but he was not censured merely for asking to hear the tones repeated. It turned out that even the relatively simple act of requesting a repetition must be construed as an act of considerable independence. Only five of the Norwegians asked for a repetition of a tone on any trial, whereas 14 of the French subjects were "bold" enough to do so. And again the French showed more independence over-all, voting with the group on 58 per cent of the critical trials, compared with 69 per cent for the Norwegians.
The study next moved out of the university and into the factory. When we tested 40 Norwegian industrial workers, we found that their level of conformity was about the same as that of the Norwegian students. There was, however, one important difference. Students were often tense and agitated during the experiment. The industrial workers took it all with good humor and frequently were amused when the true nature of the experiment was explained. We have not yet managed to study a comparable group of industrial workers in France.
No matter how the data are examined they point to greater independence among the French than among the Norwegians. Twelve per cent of the Norwegian students conformed to the group on every one of the 16 critical trials, while only 1 per cent of the French conformed on every occasion. Forty-one per cent of the French students but only 25 per cent of the Norwegians displayed strong independence. And in every one of the five experiments performed in both countries the French showed themselves to be the more resistant to group pressure.