Psychologists and scientists often go into their line of work for the betterment of mankind through their experiments and tireless work they hope to discover information that will; cure diseases uncover the root of disorders and improve the general health of people
But being that said it has not always been approached in the best way. There have been a lot of unethical and intriguing experiments especially in humans often crossed the ethical lines.
One such was the Monster Study. It literally threatened to ruin the reputations of the psychologist behind the experiment. The idea was so scary that the results were hidden for years
The ‘Monster Study’ was conducted by Dr. Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor. It was a psychological experiment on 22 orphan children in 1939.
What is The Monster Study?
Dr. Wendell Johnson was a speech pathologist. He wanted to know why children developed stutterers.
He developed the monster study to see if stuttering was the result of learned behavior and not biology.
22 orphans were chosen for the experiments. Some orphans had stutters, some didn’t. The children were separated into two groups: one group was called Stutterers, and the other was called Normal Speakers. Both of the groups had children with stutterers and perfect speakers.
Throughout the experiment, the children in the group were treated according to the group.
Every week his team visited the children for about 5 months. The children of the Normal speaker group were told that they needed severe speech therapy to correct their ‘stuttering. The remaining 11 of the Stutterers group were called perfectly healthy.
The Normal group was praised for their abilities, even if they had problems they were told that they were doing fine.
Whereas stuttering children were told:
“You have a great deal of trouble with your speech. Don’t ever try to speak if you cannot do it right. You must try to stop yourself immediately.”
In short: half of the children were given positive speech therapy, and the other half were belittled and punished for every small error they made.
There wasn’t much significant effect on the children who were leveled normal. In fact only one child showed improvement. Remember this was a group of children which included both stutterers and non-stutterers and were praised even if they weren’t able to speak properly.
Whereas children in stutterers group worsnedd. Even the children who didn’t have stutterers, 5 of them started to get problems. Report show that these children became withdrawn and some stopped speaking altogether. These children were as young as five years old.
Though the study was conducted with good intentions but researchers feared publishing results. They were not the only one who conducted such experiments. Nazis were doing the same thing over in Germany.
Using orphans as test subjects without their consent was certainly not within the ethical boundaries of any respected scientific study.
In 2007, seven of the original orphan children were compensation with about 1.2 million dollars for the emotional trauma caused by Johnson’s experiment.
And it’s for this reason, blatant manipulation of the human condition that the ‘Monster Study’ is still considered one of the most twisted experiments of all western cultures.