The Most Bizarre Psychological Experiments

There are some psychological experiments that have provided helpful insights into the human mind—and there have been others that did nothing but harm the participants involved. Others didn’t actually hurt anyone at all, but they proved that humans are more dangerous than we ever could have imagined. Here are a few bizarre psychological experiments to prove it:

Milgram Study

This is one of the most famous psychological experiments; you may have heard of it already. It took place in 1974 when participants called “teachers” were told to administer shocks to “students” in the adjacent room. Of course, no one was actually being shocked, because the people in the adjoining room were all actors. However, even though the participants believed they were genuinely shocking others and causing them unbearable pain, they continued to shock them, simply because they were told to do so. At a certain point, the acting students were instructed to bang on the wall between the rooms and ask the teacher to stop. Disturbingly, although every participant did question the practices of the experiment, less than half of the 40 “teachers” stopped before 450 volts—and none of them stopped before 300, long after a real shock would have been potentially fatal.

The Little Albert Experiment

You’ve probably heard about Pavlov conditioning dogs to salivate whenever they heard a bell ring, a concept known as classical conditioning. John B. Watson, father of the psychological school of behaviorism, took this idea a little too far. In a 1920 experiment at Johns Hopkins University, he allowed a specifically chosen human baby named Albert to play with a white rat. At first, Albert was unafraid—until Watson began to produce loud, frightening noises behind his back every time he tried to touch the animal. Eventually, the sight of the rat was enough to upset Albert deeply, and his learned fear spread to objects with similar characteristics as well. Sadly, the baby was never desensitized to the fear that Watson taught him—he left the hospital before Watson got the chance to undo his experiment.

Stanford Prison

This experiment took 24 undergraduates from Stanford and asked them to play the roles as prisoners and as guards in a fake prison. The experiment ended after only six days, even though it was meant to last for two weeks, because the “guards” were behaving too brutally toward the “prisoners.” They would actually strip them naked, place bags over their heads, and make them engage in humiliating activities.

Harlow’s Pit Of Despair

This experiment was meant to explain the concept of love. Basically, monkeys would be placed in empty chambers, so that David Harlow could see what happened to them when they remained isolated for long periods of time.  Unfortunately, most of the monkeys ended up going crazy. Some of them even refused to eat in an attempt to kill themselves.

The Monster Study

Orphans were used during this experiment. Half of them were given positive therapy, which means they were praised for their speech development. The other half were given negative therapy, where they were criticized for every little mistake they made. This experiment caused psychological damage that actually caused some of the healthy orphans to develop speech problems that they didn’t originally have.

The Asch Conformity Experiment

This experiment is actually pretty terrifying. It placed a person in a classroom of other people who were all actors. Of course, the subject did not know that, and believed that everyone else in the room was participating in the experiment, too. Then the class was asked to answer a simple question. Even though the answer was obvious, all of the other students gave the wrong answer, which caused the majority of the subjects to give the wrong answer as well. They’d rather go with the crowd than say the answer that they knew was right.

 


What other bizarre psychological experiments have you read about?


Additional Images: LOE

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Holly Riordan
Holly Riordan
Holly is an aspiring sci-fi writer who currently writes lifestyle articles for All Women Stalk and News Cult. She's a fan of comedy movies, ridiculous puns, and is the owner of a pup named Ferris (last name Bueller).