Infamous and Questionable Psychological Experiments Thread - Feel free to add your own.

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L50LasPak

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While I'm certain all of these have been brought up on this website on various places, I had some thoughts regarding The Stanford Prison Experiment that I wanted to share and realized it appeared there was not a general thread to discuss these.

Before I start us off with the best three examples that come to mind, I'll lay down a few ground rules. I'm putting them in Spoilers in order to keep the thread tidy, but please do read them.

  • To keep things from just turning into a Medical Horror General Thread (which I think we already have?) I'm narrowing the focus of this thread to purely psychological experiments. So for instance something like, say, the Tuskegee Experiment wouldn't count as that was a biological study.

  • I'm not going to bring up The Holocaust because I'm really sick of bickering about whether or not it did not happen. In addition, while we have a lot of paperwork to back up the fact that it did indeed happen, there's no point in bringing it up in this thread because most of the paperwork regarding psychological studies was destroyed. You may feel free to bring up other experiments the Nazis did, such as the ones they performed on their own soldiers to figure out how to fight the war better.

  • Unit 751 was more of a biological warfare experiment but if anyone has information on the psychological portions of it (I believe there were some) you can bring that one up.

  • Yes, we've all read and discussed to death the horrible case of David Reimer and the absolutely atrocious behavior of John Money. I don't think there's anything interesting left to say, but if you do go ahead and take that to the transgender threads.

  • You don't have to strictly adhere to this one, but for the sake of explanation I'm going to structure my posts like the following:
The Experiment: (Name)
Link: (So we don't need to explain the whole damn thing)
Why Its Infamous/Questionable:
Why I Bring It Up:

Now, with that out of the way, let's do what we do best and talk about some fucked up shit.

The Experiment: The Millgram Experiment
Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment

Why Its Infamous/Questionable: Its been found over the years that Stanley Millgram may not have been entirely honest with the scientific community. There are reports from test subjects that there was potentially more coercion involved than just a dude in a lab coat saying "Please continue", such as blocking the door, barking orders, and generally just being more aggressive than he claimed.

Why I Bring It Up: I still believe quite strongly in this one even though there have been serious attempts to discredit it in the psychological community. This is a good one to start some discussion on, because the "Questionable" part of it is relatively minor and to my knowledge nobody was actually hurt or traumatized by it.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Experiment: Project MKUltra
Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_MKUltra
Most of the actual, Declassified documentation is here: http://www.theblackvault.com/documentarchive/cia-mkultra-collection/#

Why Its Infamous/Questionable: Does this one even need an introduction? Drugging people without their consent, confining said drugged people in some instances and using things like speakers and ambient noises to make them believe they had gone insane. Several deaths including a suicide. There are thousands of files on this one experiment and its still estimated that the CIA destroyed the overwhelming majority of the ones they didn't declassify.

Why I Bring It Up: There is a very interesting theory floating around that the "Mind Control" part of the experiment was just a cover for what the experiment was actually supposed to be about: refining methods of psychological torture and possibly a few assassinations thrown in.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Experiment: The Stanford Prison Experiment
Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanford_prison_experiment

Why Its Infamous/Questionable: If you're unfamilar, the conductor of the experiment took part in the roleplaying himself, becoming the "warden" of this jail. Some have speculated he had ulterior motives for doing this, such as anti-War bias (Vietnam was in full swing by that time).

Why I Bring It Up: And here we have my own selfish reason for putting this thread together. It occured to me that while Philip Zimbardo may have massively overstepped his bounds by declaring himself the warden of this hypothetical jail; his experiment actually does still kind of support his hypothesis. That power corrupts. Except in this case, the test subject was none other than himself and his minions. Feel free to argue with me on this, its just something that came to me while I was awake in bed.
 

wtfNeedSignUp

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Don't know how infamous it is, but there is a study about why rich people are evil called "Higher social class predicts increased unethical behaviour" from Berkley (off course) that some websites referenced and it is complete shit.

The study is composed of 3 parts:
1. Using observed expensive cars making small traffic violations: This experiment is bad because expensive cars are made to feel empowering and thus can make the driver more likely to do a traffic violation. So there is an underlying bias that negates the whole experiment.

2. Using students in ethical games: The various games aren't detailed so how much unethical the students acted can vary wildly. But besides that, I'd rather work with a redneck neo nazi than a rich Berkley student (protip: take experiments using students with a grain of salt since they aren't indicators of regular society).

3. Questioning people after "priming" them with pro greed comments: hey use Amazon's Mechanical Turk, how they found a rich person who does that is beyond me.
 

Spedestrian

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The Experiment: Little Albert experiment
Link: http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Watson/emotion.htm / https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Albert_experiment
Commentary: Experimenting on consenting adults? That's bitch-made. Scaring the piss out of a little kid until he fears Santa Claus? Now that's what I call science:
250px-Little-albert.jpg
 

Aria

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The Monster Study


In 1939, 22 orphans living in Davenport, Iowa became the test subjects of Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor, two researchers from the University of Iowa. The study was about stuttering, but it didn’t go quite the way you might think. The children were separated into two groups. Members of one group received positive speech therapy and was consistently praised for their speech fluency. The other group received negative speech therapy, which included being belittled for any speech imperfection they happened to make. In the end, children in the second group who spoke normally before the experiment developed speech problems that they reportedly retained for the rest of their lives. Johnson and Tudor never published the results of their study out of fear they would be compared to the human experimenters among the Nazis.


Jesus christ
 

wtfNeedSignUp

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The Monster Study


In 1939, 22 orphans living in Davenport, Iowa became the test subjects of Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor, two researchers from the University of Iowa. The study was about stuttering, but it didn’t go quite the way you might think. The children were separated into two groups. Members of one group received positive speech therapy and was consistently praised for their speech fluency. The other group received negative speech therapy, which included being belittled for any speech imperfection they happened to make. In the end, children in the second group who spoke normally before the experiment developed speech problems that they reportedly retained for the rest of their lives. Johnson and Tudor never published the results of their study out of fear they would be compared to the human experimenters among the Nazis.


Jesus christ
It's extra assholish to not publish it, making the kids' suffering pointless.
 

A Cardboard Box

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The Stanford Prison Experiment was bullshit. Reminder that no other psychologist has been able to replicate even some of the results from the original experiment.

Zimbardo actively encouraged sadistic behavior and was also trying to impress one of his students he was fucking.

Edit:
It's extra assholish to not publish it, making the kids' suffering pointless.
I kinda get why they didn't. However the results are important. Now we take for granted that positive therapy in basically any field is significantly more useful than negative therapy, but 80 years ago that wasn't the case.

One of my personal favorite experiments was one with 3 groups of dogs:

The first group of dogs was pet and fed treats any time they approached the researchers. The second group was always kicked and screamed at when they approached researchers. The third group, when they approached researchers, the researchers would flip a coin. Heads they were fed a treat and tails they were kicked.

The third group was the most affectionate group of dogs raised.
 

L50LasPak

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  • SRS and Puberty Blockers
  • Solitary Confinement
  • Scaphism
  • Total Sensory Deprivement
  • White Room (w/ white food only)
  • Chinese Water Torture
  • Waterboarding
  • Lobotomy

Yeah just by the titles I can tell those were all probably fucked up, but any musings in particular? Let's not dick around with the transgender stuff unless you have a proper study other than the one I mentioned in my ground rules. That I'd be willing to read up on. To repeat myself, we all know John Money was a fucking monster. If you really feel strongly against transgender shit then you'll want a stronger body of evidence, so cite some other studies.

The Stanford Prison Experiment was bullshit. Reminder that no other psychologist has been able to replicate even some of the results from the original experiment.

Zimbardo actively encouraged sadistic behavior and was also trying to impress one of his students he was fucking.

That's kind of what I was saying, that he sort of proved his own point by becoming precisely the monster he was looking for. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I think it was actually unintentional. I think he really lost it on a power trip and just tried to make himself look better afterwards.

I don't have a strong case for this one, but if you watch interviews with the man he's very clearly uncomfortable when its brought up, and not in an "I'm guilty as fuck and sliming my way out of this one" but in what seems to me to be an "Oh my god what have I done?" kind of way. I know its not much to go on but either way it really speaks to the way someone with power and authority can really fuck you over. Ironically just as Stanley Millgram predicted in his research. Hence a good reason why I still believe that particular one despite the charges laid out against it.
 

Urist Steelthrone

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If you really feel strongly against transgender shit then you'll want a stronger body of evidence, so cite some other studies.

I don't feel that strongly against transgenderism, I think that doctors are overdiagnosing and mistreating it for money. I'll back off.
Yeah just by the titles I can tell those were all probably fucked up, but any musings in particular?

https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1468060/1/Mason_439379.pdf
Consistent with the hypotheses, both high and low hallucination prone groups experienced a significant

increase in psychosis-like symptoms from baseline in the sensory deprivation environment, and these remained

after controlling for state anxiety, suggestibility, and fantasy proneness. As predicted there were marked group

differences: the high hallucination prone group reported more psychosislike experiences at both baseline and in

sensory deprivation. These findings are consistent with previous research [14] that, until now, has not taken these

potential confounds into account. This provides more substantive evidence that the increase in psychosis-like

experiences found in sensory deprivation reflects a genuine aberration in perceptual experience, as opposed to an

increased tendency to make reports of psychosis-like experiences driven by individual differences in certain

personality traits. The two groups did, however, exhibit differences on a number of measures at baseline, with the

high scoring group reporting greater state/trait anxiety, greater suggestibility, and greater fantasy proneness. All of

these findings are broadly consistent with existing literature showing anxiety to be linked to hallucination

proneness [39] and acute anxiety in individuals with clinical psychosis linked to an increase in hallucinatory

experiences [53].
https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1093&context=perspectives
Since prisoners held in isolation are purposefully removed from all forms of social interaction, they are

unable to ascertain the difference between the internal or external nature of their experiences. Prisoners held in

long-term isolation also become increasingly “vulnerable to the influence of those who control the environment

around them” (Haney 2003). In the early stages of confinement, inmates crave social interaction and long to be in

the presence of others. But the continued absence of external stimuli and human interaction tends to make

prisoners fearful of others as they have become conditioned to, and reliant upon, the prison structure “to limit and

control” all forms of interaction (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). Consequently, these learned behaviors tend to put

incarcerates at a disadvantage when returned to the general prison population or released into the community as

they will continue to seek refuge in isolation or fantasy (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). These debilitating psychological

outcomes need to be taken into consideration when an inmate is subjected to extreme isolation for extended

periods of time. Psychological Considerations SHU syndrome has been conceived in order to describe a variety of

commonly encountered psychopathological symptoms experienced by incarcerates in secure housing units,

located within correctional facilities, as well as in supermax prisons. SHU syndrome is characterized by “perceptual

changes; affective disturbance; difficulty with thinking, concentration and memory; disturbance of thought content;

and problems with impulse control” (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). Incarcerates are also at risk for experiencing

distortions of perception, hallucinations, generalized anxiety, as well as violent or destructive behavior including

self-mutilation and suicidal ideation (The Psychology of Cruelty 2015). Research also suggests that repeated

exposure to solitary confinement has the ability to create an exacerbating effect among inmates leading to

increased levels of psychological distress that further hampers the possibility of rehabilitation (Morris 2015). In

addition, those with preexisting mental illness or psychiatric conditions, developmental delays, or similar

vulnerabilities are more likely to be placed within a secure housing unit considering it is incredibly difficult for

them to assimilate into the general prison population (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). As a result, the majority of those

placed in solitary confinement are highly susceptible to the damaging effects of complete isolation (Cloud et al.

2015). Further, other symptoms related to extreme isolation have been documented including instances of

potentially fatal self-harm involving the ingestion of poisonous substances and attempts of suicide by hanging or

severe lacerations (Kaba et al. 2014).
You don't have to be an official scientist to do fucked up experiments on people. The sensory deprivation experiment wasn't made out of ill will but in the wrong hands, it can be disastrous.
 

wtfNeedSignUp

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One of my personal favorite experiments was one with 3 groups of dogs:

The first group of dogs was pet and fed treats any time they approached the researchers. The second group was always kicked and screamed at when they approached researchers. The third group, when they approached researchers, the researchers would flip a coin. Heads they were fed a treat and tails they were kicked.

The third group was the most affectionate group of dogs raised.
Even dogs understand the appeal of tsunderes.

Edit: To make this post more informative, if we already talk about animal psychology then we must mention the The Mouse Utopia Experiments:
 

L50LasPak

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I don't feel that strongly against transgenderism, I think that doctors are overdiagnosing and mistreating it for money. I'll back off.

I feel that has indeed happened as well but I intentionally wanted to steer this thread clear of it to avoid interference with the actual topic, which is just trading theories and musings about psychological experiments that were troubling to say the least.

Though as I said above, if you have ones other than those conducted by the infamous John Money or ones that have since been called into question for more than general reasons in mind, they still fit, I just don't want to turn this into another "trannies aren't real thread." That can be debated elsewhere in great detail on this website.