The terrifying part? The experiment consisted of making a class of high school students believe they are part of a prestigious order. There have been a number of famous psychology experiments that are considered controversial, inhumane, unethical, and even downright cruel—here are five examples. However, as it turns out, schizophrenia is more of a neurological disorder rather than a mental problem and the lack of medication for schizophrenics has devastating effects. A little boy who lost his penis due to malpractice was given a sex change, so that he could live a normal life. In 2007, six of the orphan children were awarded $925,000 in compensation for emotional damage that the six-month-study had left them with. Harlow ignored the criticism of his colleagues, and is quoted as saying, “How could you love monkeys?” The last laugh was on him, however, as his horrific treatment of his subjects is acknowledged as being a driving force behind the development of the animal rights movement and the end of such cruel experiments. The parents agreed, but what they didn’t know was that Money secretly wanted to use David as part of an experiment to prove his views that gender identity was not inborn, but rather determined by nature and upbringing. #5 # 4 The goal of this experiment was to create mind-controlling drugs to use against the Soviets. While some famous experiments in psychology have left test subjects temporarily distressed, others have left their participants with life-long psychological issues. Thanks to ethical codes and institutional review boards, most of these experiments could never be performed today. Humanity often pays a high price for progress and understanding — at least, that seems to be the case in many famous psychological experiments. Psychologist Harry Harlow was obsessed with the concept of love, but rather than writing poems or love songs, he performed sick, twisted experiments on monkeys during the 1970s. In a way, the outcomes of such results have led many people to accept man as he is, in spite of the fact that some truths are hard to swallow. The study was meant to give information that would allow doctors to better treat schizophrenia, but rather it messed up the lives of many of the test subjects, 90% of whom relapsed into episodes of mental illness. In 1966, when David Reimer was 8 months old, his circumcision was botched and he lost his penis to burns. Not that it would’ve mattered much to the inmates, who were being offered anywhere from $10 to $300 a day, depending on the experiment. However, there are those who prefer to deal with nonsensical studies, in which they do not hesitate to use, such as guinea pigs, dumb faces or even humans themselves. The outcomes were devastating for both groups, as members from the positively reinforced group developed speech problems later on in life, while the other experienced severe psychological issues. Top 10 of the unethical psychology experiments 1. The thought was that the patient would associate pain with homosexuality. Nonetheless, conspiracy theorists claim that all evidence indicate the project’s administrator was murdered because of his decision to share this information with the world. However, having selected his test subjects, Zimbardo assigned them their roles without their knowledge, unexpectedly arresting the “prisoners” outside their own homes. The program engaged in many illegal activities and is seen as one of the most unethical psychological experiments in American history. Apparently not all psychologists were fully convinced about the complete failure of the Milgram experiment, as a study on an similar theme called The Third Wave was to take place only four years after. This post is not about that kind of research. His aim was to prove that the drug can induce the belligerent behavior specific to males of this species. 10 . While it is true that their motivation and learning abilities improved, the side effect comprised of activating their aggressive and malevolent behaviors at the same time. shock, and other unethical medical experiments. “Brenda” acted like a stereotypical boy throughout childhood, and the Reimer family began to fall apart. 4. Here are 10 of the most evil experiments ever performed on human beings—black and other people of color, women, prisoners, children and gay people have been the predominant victims. Perhaps one of the more well-known unethical human experimentation carried out by the US government, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment was conducted between 1937 and 1972. In the zeal to learn about the human thought process and behavior, many early psychiatrists went too far with their experimentations, leading to stringent ethics codes and standards. Instead, Olson is said to have committed suicide, jumping from a thirteenth-story hotel room window, although there is strong evidence that he was murdered. Many psychological experiments … The man was an actor, the shocks fake; but the participants didn’t know this. Using a class of high school students, the experimenter created a system whereby some students were considered members of a prestigious order. Many psychology studies involve nothing more challenging for participants than sitting down with a short paper questionnaire and ticking off agreement or not with a series of anodyne statements. 10. The question is hackneyed, yes, but it cannot be ignored when considering the ethics of human experimentation. Where In The World Is Facial Recognition Being Used? Although the participants agreed to participate in the study they did The only way to describe this experiment is pure sadism: 22 orphans were separated into two groups, one of which would receive solely positive reinforcements for their school progress, while the other was constantly being criticized, even for the slightest mistake. Theodore Kaczynski, otherwise known as the Unabomber, is reported to have been a test subject in the CIA’s disturbing experiments, which may have contributed to his mental instability. Do noble ends ever justify evil means? In another case, the administration of LSD to US Army biological weapons expert Frank Olson is thought to have sparked a crisis of conscience, inspiring him to tell the world about his research. Yet more bad news was to come as it was later revealed that some of the children who had previously been unaffected developed speech problems following the experiment. Most of experiments conducted by various psychologists over the years have provided useful insights regarding our motivation, thinking process and the roots of our behaviors. Due to the fact that the students’ behavior was out of control, the experiment had to be ceased after four days. One participant, Tony LaMadrid, leaped to his death from a rooftop six years after first enrolling in the study. Syphilis Experiments in Guatemala. Adults, children, and even animals were a part of the inhumane practices of several mad scientists. However, many of the experiments still fall under the completely inhumane, unethical, and immoral area. In their latest video, “10 Evil Social Experiments,” Alltime10s highlights the most famous and disturbing experiments that took place all around the world that could never happen today. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most bizarre, unethical, and inhumane psychological experiment that went horribly wrong and ended up with disastrous results. Due to his obsession of explaining the concept behind love, David Harlow devised an empty chamber with no stimulus whatsoever. After just four days, the experiment was considered to be slipping out of control and was ceased. Let’s elaborate further. As a means of testing just how well people tend to conform to social norms, Philip Zimbardo devised an interesting two weeks experiment: he created a mock prison, where several male students were to live as prisoners and guardians. Homosexual Aversion Therapy In the 1950’s and 1960’s, aversion therapy was used to try and cure gay men of what was believed to be a mental illness at the time. How far is too far, when it's come to a better understanding of human behavior and thoughts? The most surprising thing about these unethical experiments was the lack of empathy from the experiment conductors. Research in psychology seeks to understand and explain how we think, act and feel. We think we’ve found 20 answers to that question with our list of the most … In short, several patients with schizophrenia volunteered for a study that specifically asked them to give up their medication. In other cases, these experiments were also quite controversial. This is perhaps the most illustrative example of why the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Although the exact number is not known, former apartheid army surgeons estimate that as many as 900 forced ‘sexual reassignment’ operations may have been performed between 1971 and 1989 at military hospitals, as part of a top-secret program to root out homosexuality from the service. It was an attempt to make his mark on the scientific community by determining whether the drug could induce “musth” — the aggressiveness and high hormone levels that male elephants experience periodically. Sadly, others have ended up backfiring horribly — ruining lives and shaming the profession. Wendell Johnson, of the University of Iowa, who was behind the study. Philip Zimbardo conducted the Stanford prison experiment in 1971. The idea behind the research was to prove that fascist beliefs can infiltrate very easily even in the most democratic society systems. However, the experiments turned out to be a complete disaster, as the main subject developed mental instability. In 1963, in the wake of the atrocities of the Holocaust, Stanley Milgram set out to test the hypothesis that there was something special about the German people that had allowed them to participate in genocide. Even more scarily, this behavior was gleefully continued outside of the classroom. One notable example was Project MKULTRA . What was interesting about this study is that he did not tell the students their roles, but rather “arrested” the prisoners outside their homes and called the guardians to work. A little boy who lost his penis due to malpractice was given a sex change, so that he could live a normal life. There he would place several non-human subjects (monkeys) in order to observe and try to understand the effects of total isolation better. The results showed that the children who had received negative responses were badly affected in terms of their psychological health. https://listverse.com/2008/09/07/top-10-unethical-psychological-experiments However, the standards weren’t always so high. Many medicated schizophrenics enrolled in a University of California study that required them to stop taking their medication in a program that started in 1983. The pace of research seems to accelerate more every year, and 2015 saw its share of major studies across several categories of brain science and psychology. The students showed increased motivation to learn, yet, more worryingly, became eager to get on board with malevolent practices, such as excluding and ostracizing non-members from the class. Psychology is both an applied and academic field that studies the human mind and behavior. In an effort to impress the scientific community, the director of the Lincoln Park Zoo (Oklahoma City) decided to inject a male elephant with a dose of LSD. Prompted by the trial of high-ranking Nazi and Holocaust-coordinator Adolf Eichmann, Milgram wished to assess whether people really would carry out acts that clashed with their conscience if so directed by an authority figure. During the Cold War, the CIA came up with what they thought was a brilliant way to defeat the Russia once and for all: injecting soldiers of the US army with LSD. Comment on what you found most surprising among those and whether you think anything like this could still happen today. The experiment is by far the most unethical one in the field of psychology. Some of the most famous examples include Milgram's obedience experiment and Zimbardo's prison experiment. Image SourceYale University social psychology professor Stanley Milgram embarked on his now infamous series of experiments in 1961. This doesn’t even touch on the long-term psychological damage other test subjects are likely to have suffered. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, also seen top. One of his experiments revolved around confining the monkeys in total isolation in an apparatus he called the “well of despair” (a featureless, empty chamber depriving the animal of any stimulus or socialization) — which resulted in his subjects going insane and even starving themselves to death in two cases. The experiment was rather simplistic, as members of an audience were asked to query the man (hired actor) sitting in a chair connected to an electric-shock generator. Image Source From 1946 to 1948, the United States government, Guatemalan president Juan José Arévalo, and some Guatemalan health ministries, cooperated in a disturbing human experiment on unwitting Guatemalan citizens. The CIA have funded a number of psychological experiments, though they haven’t always gotten round to reading the ethics forms. This experiment took place in a period when homosexuality was considered a mental disorder and everyone was looking for a proficient treatment. Top 5 Most Unethical Psychological Experiments #1 David Reimer By John Money A psychologist convinced the parents of a baby boy to do a sex change after the boys penis was burned off. The Milgram Experiments The main task of doctors should be to help sick people. 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After just six days, the distressing reality of this “prison” forced Zimbardo to prematurely end the experiment. Top 10 Failed Psychology Experiments Written by Top 100 Arena on 2012-07-06 No branches of science can exist without rigorous testing and experiments to prove the validity and hypothesis of theories.However, scientists cannot have a free reign on whatever experiments they would like to … At 14, Brenda was told the truth, and decided to go back to being David. Among the most controversial approaches was the aversion therapy, where the images of homosexuals were paired with painful stimuli that induced vomiting. Torture and Psychology. © 2014-2020 Top-10-List.org, All Rights Reserved. The experiment was initial conceptualized as a means of helping psychiatrists better understand the intricate nature of schizophrenia. 1) Monster study This study was led by Wendell Johnson of the University of Iowa - in 1939 […] Under the pretense of an experiment into human learning, Milgram asked normal members of the public to ask questions to a man attached to an electric-shock generator and shock him in increasing measure when he answered incorrectly. Your email address will not be published. The CIA performed many unethical experiments into mind control and psychology under the banner of project MK-ULTRA during the 50s and 60s. 10. However, not all experiments and testing prove to be an illuminating or useful achievement and some of them have actually spiraled out of control. He committed suicide at the age of 38. Rather than “curing” homosexuality, these experiments profoundly psychologically damaged the patients, with at least one man dying from the “treatment” he received, after he went into a coma. It was authorized and performed by the United States Public Health Service under the guise of free medical care. Psychologist John Money suggested that baby David be given a sex change. Education. The results were disturbing. The experiment was conducted in 1920 by John Watson and Rosalie Rayner at Johns Hopkins University. It is said that the project leader also experienced psychological problems and that is the reason why he committed suicide. In the zeal to lea… Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Top 10 Unethical Psychological Experiments In the 1960s homosexuality was frequently depicted as a mental illness, with many individuals seeking (voluntarily or otherwise) a way to “cure” themselves of their sexual attraction to members of the same sex. In 1968, John Darley and … However, when David acted exactly as a stereotypical boy his age, his parents were forced to tell him the truth. Top 10 Unethical Psychological Experiments - Listverse Psychology is a relatively new science which gained popularity in the early 20th century with Wilhelm Wundt. After all, most experiments performed on humans ar Instead of curing the so-called mental condition, the only thing the therapy managed to achieve was to cause irreparable psychological damages to the subjects. Each time the man tied in the chair answered incorrectly, he would get electrocuted by the person in charge of the query. Some psychological experiments that were designed to test the bystander effect are considered unethical by today’s standards. Finally, in 2014, he was sentenced to five years in prison. 11+ Most Controversial Psychological Experiments in History. Many psychological experiments have been valid and ethical, allowing researchers to make new treatments and therapies available, and giving other insights into our motivations and actions. For each test, Milgram lined up three people, who were split into the role… Learn vocabulary, terms, and more with flashcards, games, and other study tools. It seems that the 3,000 times higher than normal dose was a bit too much for the elephant that collapsed immediately, suffered from convulsions and died soon after. Top 10 Unethical Psychological Experiments - Listverse Psychology is a relatively new science which gained popularity in the early 20th century with Wilhelm Wundt. 1. Here are ten psychological experiments that spiraled out of control. Experiment Details: The Little Albert experiment is considered to be among the most unethical psychological experiments of all time. 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