Who Developed the Theory About Autokinetic Effect in Social Psychology and When Was the Work Done?


Diego Sanchez

The autokinetic effect is a phenomenon studied in the field of social psychology. It refers to the perceived movement of a stationary light source when viewed in a dark room. This optical illusion has been extensively researched, and one of the pioneers in this area of study was Sherif Muzafer.

Sherif Muzafer:
Sherif Muzafer was a Turkish-American psychologist who made significant contributions to the field of social psychology. Born on June 29, 1906, in Izmir, Turkey, Muzafer later moved to the United States to pursue his studies and career. He obtained his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1935 and went on to become a prominent figure in the field.

The Autokinetic Effect:
Muzafer conducted groundbreaking research on the autokinetic effect during the 1930s and 1940s. The autokinetic effect occurs when an individual perceives a stationary light source as moving due to small involuntary eye movements. This phenomenon is particularly pronounced when viewed in complete darkness.

Experimental Setup:
To study this effect, Muzafer conducted experiments using a dark room and a single point of light projected onto a wall. Participants were asked to estimate how much the light appeared to move over multiple trials.

  • Group Experiment: One of Muzafer’s key contributions was studying how individuals’ perceptions of movement are influenced by group dynamics. He conducted experiments where participants estimated the movement of the light individually and then as part of a group.
  • Social Influence: Through these experiments, Muzafer demonstrated that individuals’ estimates of movement converge towards a consensus when they are exposed to other people’s judgments.

Significance and Impact:
Muzafer’s work on the autokinetic effect made significant contributions to the understanding of social influence and group dynamics. It highlighted the power of conformity and demonstrated how individuals’ perceptions can be influenced by the opinions of others.


In conclusion, Sherif Muzafer was a pioneering psychologist who played a crucial role in developing our understanding of the autokinetic effect. His experiments shed light on how individuals’ perceptions of movement are influenced by both internal factors, such as eye movements, and external factors, such as social influence. Muzafer’s work continues to be relevant in the field of social psychology and serves as a foundation for further research in this area.