Scientific experiments on humans are the holy grail when it comes to the psychological study of human behavior... testing rats or monkeys can only get a researcher so far. But with human testing comes a very different set of ethics, and the infamous human experiments listed below violated those ethics in some truly horrible ways. Brace yourself for some disturbing information on real-life human scientific experiments.
What are the craziest experiments ever conducted on humans? This list of crazy in-humane studies will leave you feeling extremely uneasy every time you come in range of a laboratory. Subject college students to a prison environment? Check. Torture a baby until it's afraid of Santa Claus? You bet. Tell orphans they have terrible speech problems to generate terrible speech problems? That's been done, too.Some might call this interesting psychology. Others might call it Science. A few might just puke. To study human behavior and experiment on humans can lead to critical breakthroughs, or they can cause irreversible problems. These experiments did both. Whatever you think about these studies, many of them are of the most famous psychology experiments ever conducted.
David Reimer was the subject of a gender study conducted by Psychologist John Money from 1965-1980, to see whether gender was innate or conditioned. Reimer experienced a botch circumcision in infancy during which his penis was cut off. Money thought that Reimer would have a better life being given a vagina and conditioned to grow up female. Reimer grew up as "Brenda" and until age 14, didn't know he was born male despite behaving like a boy.During his childhood, Money continued to condition Reimer to "act" female and forced him and his twin brother to enact various sexual poses and genital inspection, as Money argued childhood sexual rehearsal played a role in adult gender identity formation. Reimer did get a reverse sex change as an adult but the damage was already done - he tragically committed suicide at age 38. see more on David Reimer
The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Stanford prison experiment took place over the span of one week in August in 1971. The experiment studied the psychological effects of young men becoming either a prisoner or prison guard. Head researcher, Dr. Philip Zimbardo, allowed the study to continue uninterrupted while prisoners were subject to assault as psychological torture at the hands of the guards.
In fact he encouraged it, telling the guards, "You can create in the prisoners feelings of boredom, a sense of fear to some degree, you can create a notion of arbitrariness that their life is totally controlled by us, by the system, you, me, and they'll have no privacy ... We're going to take away their individuality in various ways."Some examples of abuse included guards attacking prisoners with fire extinguishers, refusing to let prisoners urinate or defecate in anything but a bucket, and forcing them to sleep on concrete. The study, which was supposed to last 14 days, was abruptly stopped after six due to the chaos.
The Milgram experiment was a series of psychology experiments that measured participants' willingness to obey an authority figure when said authority figure instructed the participants to complete acts that were in contrast with the participants' values. The study took place on the Yale University campus in 1963 and was administered by Dr. Stanley Milgram.
The idea of the study was to see, like the Nazis claimed, if it was possible for good people to "just be following orders." In the experiment, a student was instructed to issue electroshocks to a subject with a heart condition whenever the subject answered incorrect questions. In reality, the shocks weren't real, the subject was an actor, but the decision by the student to administer the shocks to the pleading subject was.
Before the study, Dr. Milgram predicted only 3.5% of students would shock the subject at the maximum voltage allowed, but in reality 65% of students did. The results of the experiment supported the hypothesis that it's possible for people to obey orders when they are in opposition to their conscience.
The Monster Study
The Monster Study was a speech therapy study conducted on 22 orphan children in Davenport, IA, in 1939. Dr. Wendell Johnson, a University of Iowa professor, oversaw the experiment. The children were separated into two groups which half were praised for their speech while the others, many with no speech problems, were belittled for every word they said and were told they were stuttering.
Many of the children in the belittled group developed permanent speech problems.