Social experiments to try

10 Of The Most Brilliant Studies

Ten of the most influential social psychology experiments explain why we sometimes do dumb or irrational things.

“I have been primarily interested in how and why ordinary people do unusual things, things that seem alien to their natures.

Why do good people sometimes act evil?

Why do smart people sometimes do dumb or irrational things?” –Philip Zimbardo

Like famous social psychologist Professor Philip Zimbardo (author of The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil), I’m also obsessed with why we do dumb or irrational things.

The answer quite often is because of other people — something social psychologists have comprehensively shown.

Each of the 10 brilliant social psychology experiments below tells a unique, insightful story relevant to all our lives, every day.

Click the link in each social psychology experiment to get the full description and explanation of each phenomenon.

1. Social Psychology Experiments: The Halo Effect

The halo effect is a finding from a famous social psychology experiment.

It is the idea that global evaluations about a person (e.g. she is likeable) bleed over into judgements about their specific traits (e.g. she is intelligent).

It is sometimes called the “what is beautiful is good” principle, or the “physical attractiveness stereotype”.

It is called the halo effect because a halo was often used in religious art to show that a person is good.

2. Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the mental discomfort people feel when trying to hold two conflicting beliefs in their mind.

People resolve this discomfort by changing their thoughts to align with one of conflicting beliefs and rejecting the other.

The study provides a central insight into the stories we tell ourselves about why we think and behave the way we do.

3. Robbers Cave Experiment: How Group Conflicts Develop

The Robbers Cave experiment was a famous social psychology experiment on how prejudice and conflict emerged between two group of boys.

It shows how groups naturally develop their own cultures, status structures and boundaries — and then come into conflict with each other.

For example, each country has its own culture, its government, legal system and it draws boundaries to differentiate itself from neighbouring countries.

One of the reasons the became so famous is that it appeared to show how groups could be reconciled, how peace could flourish.

The key was the focus on superordinate goals, those stretching beyond the boundaries of the group itself.

4. Social Psychology Experiments: The Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford prison experiment was run to find out how people would react to being made a prisoner or prison guard.

The psychologist Philip Zimbardo, who led the Stanford prison experiment, thought ordinary, healthy people would come to behave cruelly, like prison guards, if they were put in that situation, even if it was against their personality.

It has since become a classic social psychology experiment, studied by generations of students and recently coming under a lot of criticism.

5. The Milgram Social Psychology Experiment

The Milgram experiment, led by the well-known psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s, aimed to test people’s obedience to authority.

The results of Milgram’s social psychology experiment, sometimes known as the Milgram obedience study, continue to be both thought-provoking and controversial.

The Milgram experiment discovered people are much more obedient than you might imagine.

Fully 63 percent of the participants continued administering what appeared like electric shocks to another person while they screamed in agony, begged to stop and eventually fell silent — just because they were told to.

6. The False Consensus Effect

The false consensus effect is a famous social psychological finding that people tend to assume that others agree with them.

It could apply to opinions, values, beliefs or behaviours, but people assume others think and act in the same way as they do.

It is hard for many people to believe the false consensus effect exists because they quite naturally believe they are good ‘intuitive psychologists’, thinking it is relatively easy to predict other people’s attitudes and behaviours.

In reality, people show a number of predictable biases, such as the false consensus effect, when estimating other people’s behaviour and its causes.

7. Social Psychology Experiments: Social Identity Theory

Social identity theory helps to explain why people’s behaviour in groups is fascinating and sometimes disturbing.

People gain part of their self from the groups they belong to and that is at the heart of social identity theory.

The famous theory explains why as soon as humans are bunched together in groups we start to do odd things: copy other members of our group, favour members of own group over others, look for a leader to worship and fight other groups.

8. Negotiation: 2 Psychological Strategies That Matter Most

Negotiation is one of those activities we often engage in without quite realising it.

Negotiation doesn’t just happen in the boardroom, or when we ask our boss for a raise or down at the market, it happens every time we want to reach an agreement with someone.

In a classic, award-winning series of social psychology experiments, Morgan Deutsch and Robert Krauss investigated two central factors in negotiation: how we communicate with each other and how we use threats.

9. Bystander Effect And The Diffusion Of Responsibility

The bystander effect in social psychology is the surprising finding that the mere presence of other people inhibits our own helping behaviours in an emergency.

The bystander effect social psychology experiments are mentioned in every psychology textbook and often dubbed ‘seminal’.

This famous social psychology experiment on the bystander effect was inspired by the highly publicised murder of Kitty Genovese in 1964.

It found that in some circumstances, the presence of others inhibits people’s helping behaviours — partly because of a phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility.

10. Asch Conformity Experiment: The Power Of Social Pressure

The Asch conformity experiments — some of the most famous every done — were a series of social psychology experiments carried out by noted psychologist Solomon Asch.

The Asch conformity experiment reveals how strongly a person’s opinions are affected by people around them.

In fact, the Asch conformity experiment shows that many of us will deny our own senses just to conform with others.


Social Psychology Experiments - Explaining Human Nature

Social psychology experiments can explain how thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the presence of others.

Discover 27 more articles on this topic

Don't miss these related articles:

  1. Milgram Experiment
  2. Bobo Doll Experiment
  3. Stanford Prison Experiment
  4. Asch Experiment
  5. Milgram Experiment Ethics

Typically social psychology studies investigate how someone's behavior influences a groups behavior or internal states, such as attitude or self-concept.

Obedience to Authority

"I was only following orders"

Legal defence by a Nazi leader at the Nuremberg trial following World War II

The aftermath of World War 2 made scientists investigate what to made people "follow orders" even though the orders were horrible. The Stanley Milgram Experiment showed that also non-nazi populations would follow orders to harm other persons. It was not a German phenomenon as many thought.

Milgram's Lost Letter Experiment

Classic social psychology experiments are widely used to expose the key elements of aggressive behavior, prejudice and stereotyping. Social group prejudice is manifested in people's unfavorable attitudes towards a particular social group. Stanley Milgram's Lost Letter Experiment further explains this.

Obedience to a Role - Dehumanization

The Abu Ghraib prison-episode was yet another example on the power of predefined roles. The Stanford Prison Experiment by Philip Zimbardo, demonstrated the powerful effect our perception of expectations in roles have.


Solomon Asch wanted to test how much people are influenced by others opinions in the Asch Conformity Experiment.

Observational Role Learning

Behaviorists ruled psychology for a long time. They focused on how individuals learn by trying and failing. Albert Bandura thought that humans are much more than "learning machines". He thought that we learn from role models, initiating the (bandura) social cognitive theory. It all started with the Bobo Doll Experiment.

Helping Behavior - Good Samaritan

Knowing the story of the Good Samaritan makes you wonder what made the Samaritan help the stranger, and why did he not get help from the priest or the Levite? The Good Samaritan Experiment explores causes of not showing helping behavior or altruism.

Cognitive Dissonance Experiment

The Cognitive Dissonance Experiment by Leon Festinger assumes that people hold many different cognitions about their world and tests what happens when the cognitions do not fit. See also the more in depth article about the Cognitive Dissonance Experiment.

Bystander Effect

The Bystander Apathy Experiment was inspirated and motivation to conduct this experiment from the highly publicised murder of Kitty Genovese in the same year.

Groups and Influence On Opinion

Sherif's classic social psychology experiment named Robbers Cave Experiment dealt with in-group relations, out-group relations and intergroup relations.

The Social Judgment Experiment was designed to explore the internal processes of an individual's judgment and intergroup discrimination, how little it takes for people to form into groups, and the degree to which people within a group tend to favour the in-group and discriminate the out-group.

Halo Effect

The Halo Effect was demonstrated by Nisbett and Wilson's experiment. It fits the situation of Hollywood celebrities where people readily assume that since these people are physically attractive, it also follows that they are intelligent, friendly, and display good judgment as well. This also greatly applies to other well-known people such as politicians.

Wegner's Dream Rebound Experiment

According to studies, thoughts suppressed may resurface or manifest themselves in the future in the form of dreams. Psychologist Daniel M. Wegner proves this in his experiment on effects of thought suppression.

False Consensus

Everyone's got their own biases in each and every occasion, even when estimating other people behaviors and the respective causes. One of these is called the false consensus bias. Psychologist Professor Lee Ross conducted studies on setting out to show how false consensus effect operates.

Interpersonal Bargaining

Bargaining is one of the many activities we usually engage in without even realizing it. The Moran Deutsch and Robert Krauss Experiment investigated two central factors in bargaining, namely how we communicate with each other and the use of threats.

Understand and Belief

Daniel Gilbert together with his colleagues put to test both Rene Descartes' and Baruch Spinoza's beliefs on whether belief is automatic or is a separate process that follows understanding. This argument has long been standing for at least 400 years before it was finally settled.


People lie all the time even to themselves and surprisingly, it does work! This is the finding of the Quattrone and Tversky Experiment that was published in the Journal of Personality and Psychology.

Overjustification Effect

The overjustification effect happens when an external incentive like a reward, decreases a person's intrinsic motivation to perform a particular task. Lepper, Greene and Nisbett confirmed this in their field experiment in a nursery school.

Chameleon Effect

Also called unintentional mirroring, the chameleon effect usually applies to people who are getting along so well, each tend to mimic each other's body posture, hand gestures, speaking accents, among others. This was confirmed by the Chartrand and Bargh experiments.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation bias is also known as selective collection of evidence. It is considered as an effect of information processing where people behaves to as to make their expectations come true. People tend to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses independently of the information's truthness or falsity.

Choice Blindness

Choice blindness refers to ways in which people are blind to their own choices and preferences. Lars Hall and Peter Johansson further explain this phenomenon in their study.


The Clark Doll Test illustrates the ill effects of stereotyping and racial segregation in America. It illustrated the damage caused by systematic segregation and racism on children's self-perception at the young age of five.

Selective Group Perception

In selective group perception, people tend to actively filter information they think is irrelevant. This effect is demonstrated in Hastorf and Cantril's Case Study: They Saw a Game.

Changing Behaviour When Being Studied

The Hawthorne Effect is the process where human subjects of an experiment change their behavior, simply because they are being studied. This is one of the hardest inbuilt biases to eliminate or factor into the design.

Psychological experiments

Man and his personality traits have been the object of interest and study of the great minds of mankind for more than one century. And from the very beginning of the development of psychological science to the present day, people have managed to develop and significantly improve their skills in this difficult but exciting business.

Therefore, now, in order to obtain reliable data in the study of the characteristics of the human psyche and his personality, people use a large number of very different methods and methods of research in psychology. And one of the methods that have gained the greatest popularity and proven themselves from the most practical side is a psychological experiment. nine0003

We decided to consider individual examples of the most famous, interesting and even inhumane and shocking socio-psychological experiments that were carried out on people, regardless of the general material, due to their importance and significance. But at the beginning of this part of our course, we will once again recall what a psychological experiment is and what are its features, and also briefly touch on the types and characteristics of the experiment.

What is an experiment?

Experiment in psychology is a certain experiment that is carried out under special conditions in order to obtain psychological data by interfering with the researcher in the process of the subject's activity. Both a specialist scientist and a simple layman can act as a researcher during the experiment.

The main characteristics and features of the experiment are:

  • The ability to change any variable and create new conditions to identify new patterns; nine0020
  • Ability to select a reference point;
  • Possibility of repeated holding;
  • Possibility to include other methods of psychological research into the experiment: test, survey, observation and others.

The experiment itself can be of several types: laboratory, natural, aerobatic, explicit, hidden, etc.

If you have not studied the first lessons of our course, then you will probably be interested to know that you can learn more about the experiment and other research methods in psychology in our lesson "Methods of Psychology". Now we turn to the most famous psychological experiments. nine0003

The most famous psychological experiments

  1. Hawthorne experiment
  2. Milgram Experiment
  3. Stanford Prison Experiment
  4. Ringelmann Experiment
  5. Experiment "Me and Others"
  6. Monstrous Experiment
  7. Aversion Project
  8. Landis Experiments
  9. Little Albert
  10. Learned helplessness
  11. Boy raised like a girl


Hawthorne experiment

The name Hawthorne experiment refers to a series of socio-psychological experiments that were conducted from 1924 to 1932 in the American city of Hawthorne at the Western Electrics factory by a group of researchers led by psychologist Elton Mayo. The prerequisite for the experiment was a decrease in labor productivity among factory workers. nine0003

Studies that have been conducted on this issue have not been able to explain the reasons for this decline. Because factory management was interested in raising productivity, scientists were given complete freedom of action. Their goal was to identify the relationship between the physical conditions of work and the efficiency of workers.

After much research, scientists came to the conclusion that labor productivity is influenced by social conditions and, mainly, by the emergence of workers' interest in the work process, as a result of their awareness of their participation in the experiment. nine0003

The mere fact that workers are singled out in a separate group and they receive special attention from scientists and managers already affects the efficiency of workers. By the way, during the Hawthorne experiment, the Hawthorne effect was revealed, and the experiment itself raised the authority of psychological research as scientific methods.

Knowing the results of the Hawthorne experiment, as well as the effect, we can apply this knowledge in practice, namely: to have a positive impact on our own activities and the activities of others. Parents can improve the development of their children, educators can improve student achievement, employers can improve the efficiency of their employees and productivity. nine0003

To do this, you can try to announce that a certain experiment will take place, and the people to whom you announce it are an important component of it. For the same purpose, you can apply the introduction of any innovation. But you can learn more about it here.

You can learn more about the Hawthorne Experiment here.


The Milgram experiment

The Milgram experiment was first described by an American social psychologist in 1963 year. His goal was to find out how much suffering some people can cause to others, and innocent people, provided that this is their job duties.

Participants were told that they were studying the effect of pain on memory. And the participants were the experimenter himself, the real subject ("teacher") and the actor who played the role of another subject ("student"). The “student” had to memorize the words from the list, and the “teacher” had to check his memory and, in case of an error, punish him with an electric discharge, each time increasing its strength. nine0003

Initially, the Milgram experiment was conducted in order to find out how the inhabitants of Germany could take part in the destruction of a huge number of people during the Nazi terror. As a result, the experiment clearly demonstrated the inability of people (in this case, "teachers") to resist the boss (researcher), who ordered the "work" to continue, despite the fact that the "student" suffered.

As a result of the experiment, it was revealed that the need to obey authorities is deeply rooted in the human mind, even under conditions of internal conflict and moral suffering. Milgram himself noted that under the pressure of authority, adequate adults are able to go very far. nine0003

If we think for a while, we will see that, in fact, the results of the Milgram experiment tell us, among other things, about the inability of a person to independently decide what to do and how to behave when someone is “over him” something higher in rank, status, etc. The manifestation of these features of the human psyche, unfortunately, very often leads to disastrous results.

In order for our society to be truly civilized, people must learn to always be guided by a human attitude towards each other, as well as ethical norms and moral principles that their conscience dictates to them, and not the authority and power of other people. nine0003

Read more about Milgram's experiment here.


Stanford Prison Experiment

The Stanford Prison Experiment was conducted by American psychologist Philip Zimbardo in 1971 at Stanford. It explored a person's reaction to the conditions of imprisonment, the restriction of freedom and the impact on his behavior of an imposed social role. Funding was provided by the US Navy in order to explain the causes of conflicts in the Marine Corps and the Navy's correctional facilities. For the experiment, men were selected, some of whom became "prisoners", and the other part - "guards". nine0003

"Guards" and "prisoners" very quickly got used to their roles, and sometimes very dangerous situations arose in a makeshift prison. Sadistic inclinations were manifested in a third of the "guards", and the "prisoners" received severe moral injuries. The experiment, designed for two weeks, was stopped after six days, because. he started to get out of control. The Stanford prison experiment is often compared to the Milgram experiment we described above.

In real life, one can see how any justifying ideology supported by the state and society can make people overly receptive and submissive, and the power of authorities has a strong impact on a person's personality and psyche. Watch yourself, and you will see visual confirmation of how certain conditions and situations affect your internal state and shape behavior more than the internal characteristics of your personality. nine0003

It is very important to be able to always be yourself and remember your values ​​in order not to be influenced by external factors. And this can be done only with the help of constant self-control and awareness, which, in turn, need regular and systematic training.

Details of the Stanford Prison Experiment can be found here.


Ringelmann experiment

The Ringelmann experiment (aka the Ringelmann effect) was first described in 1913, and was carried out in 1927 by the French professor of agricultural engineering Maximilian Ringelmann. This experiment was carried out out of curiosity, but revealed a pattern of decrease in people's productivity depending on the increase in the number of people in the group in which they work.

For the experiment, a random selection of a different number of people was carried out to perform a certain job. In the first case, it was weight lifting, and in the second, tug of war. nine0003

One person could lift as much as possible, for example, a weight of 50 kg. Therefore, two people should have been able to lift 100 kg, because. the result should increase in direct proportion. But the effect was different: two people were able to lift only 93% of the weight that 100% of which could be lifted alone. When the group of people was increased to eight people, they only lifted 49% of the weight. In the case of tug of war, the effect was the same: an increase in the number of people reduced the percentage of efficiency. nine0003

It can be concluded that when we rely only on our own strength, then we make maximum efforts to achieve the result, and when we work in a group, we often rely on someone else. The problem lies in the passivity of actions, and this passivity is more social than physical.

Solitary work causes us to reflex to get the most out of ourselves, and in group work the result is not so significant. Therefore, if you need to do something very important, then it is best to rely only on yourself and not rely on the help of other people, because then you will give your best "to the fullest" and achieve your goal, and other people are not so important what is important to you. nine0003

More information about the Ringelmann experiment/effect can be found here.


Experiment "Me and Others"

"Me and Others" is a 1971 Soviet popular science film, which presents footage of several psychological experiments, the course of which is commented by the announcer. The experiments in the film reflect the influence of the opinions of others on a person and his ability to think out what he could not remember. All experiments were prepared and conducted by psychologist Valeria Mukhina. nine0003

Experiments, shown in the film:

  • "Attack": the subjects must describe the details of the impromptu attack and remember the signs of the attackers.
  • "Scientist or killer": subjects are shown a portrait of the same person, having previously presented him as a scientist or a killer. Participants must make a psychological portrait of this person.
  • “Both are white”: Black and white pyramids are placed on the table in front of the child participants. Three of the children say that both pyramids are white, testing the fourth for suggestibility. The results of the experiment are very interesting. Later, this experiment was carried out with the participation of adults. nine0020
  • "Sweet salty porridge": three quarters of the porridge in the bowl are sweet and one is salty. Three children are given porridge and they say it is sweet. The fourth is given a salty "site". Task: to check what the name of the porridge will be called by a child who has tasted a salty “site” when the other three say that it is sweet, thereby testing the importance of public opinion.
  • "Portraits": participants are shown 5 portraits and asked to find out if there are two photos of the same person among them. At the same time, all participants, except for one who came later, must say that two different photos are a photo of the same person. The essence of the experiment is also to find out how the opinion of the majority affects the opinion of one. nine0020
  • Shooting range: there are two targets in front of the student. If he shoots to the left, then a ruble will fall out, which he can take for himself, if to the right, then the ruble will go to the needs of the class. The left target initially had more hit marks. It is necessary to find out which target the student will shoot at if he sees that many of his comrades shot at the left target.

The vast majority of the results of the experiments conducted in the film showed that for people (both for children and adults) what others say and their opinion is very important. So it is in life: very often we give up our beliefs and opinions when we see that the opinions of others do not coincide with our own. That is, we can say that we lose ourselves among the rest. nine0003

For this reason, many people do not achieve their goals, betray their dreams, go along with the public. You need to be able to maintain your individuality in any conditions and always think only with your head. After all, first of all, it will serve you well.

Read more about the film "Me and Others" and watch the film itself on this page.

By the way, in 2010 a remake of this film was made, in which the same experiments were presented. If you wish, you can find both of these films on the Internet. nine0003


"Monstrous" experiment

A monstrous experiment was carried out in 1939 in the USA by psychologist Wendell Johnson and his graduate student Mary Tudor in order to find out how susceptible children are to suggestion. For the experiment, 22 orphans from the city of Davenport were selected. They were divided into two groups. The children from the first group were told about how wonderful and correct they were speaking, and they were praised in every possible way. The other half of the children were convinced that their speech was full of flaws, and they were called miserable stutterers. nine0003

The results of this monstrous experiment were also monstrous: in the majority of children from the second group, who did not have any speech defects, all the symptoms of stuttering began to develop and take root, which persisted throughout their later life. The experiment itself was hidden from the public for a very long time so as not to damage the reputation of Dr. Johnson. Then, nevertheless, people learned about this experiment. Later, by the way, similar experiments were carried out by the Nazis on concentration camp prisoners. nine0003

Looking at the life of modern society, sometimes one is amazed at how parents raise their children today. You can often see how they scold their children, insult them, call them names, call them very unpleasant words. It is not surprising that people with a broken psyche and developmental disabilities grow out of young children. You need to understand that everything that we say to our children, and even more so if we say it often, will eventually find its reflection in their inner world and the formation of their personality. nine0003

We need to carefully monitor everything that we say to our children, how we communicate with them, what kind of self-esteem we form and what values ​​we instill. Only healthy upbringing and true parental love can make our sons and daughters adequate people, ready for adulthood and able to become part of a normal and healthy society.

More information about the "monstrous" experiment is available here.


Aversion Project

This terrible project has been running since 1970 to 1989 in the South African Army under the "leadership" of Colonel Aubrey Levin. It was a secret program designed to purge the ranks of the South African army from people of non-traditional sexual orientation. The "participants" of the experiment, according to official figures, were about 1,000 people, although the exact number of victims is unknown. To achieve a "good" goal, scientists used a variety of means: from drugs and electroshock therapy to castration with chemicals and sex reassignment surgery. nine0003

The Aversion project failed: it was impossible to change the sexual orientation of military personnel. And the “approach” itself was not based on any scientific evidence about homosexuality and transsexuality. Many of the victims of this project have never been able to rehabilitate themselves. Some committed suicide.

Of course, this project concerned only persons of non-traditional sexual orientation. But if we talk about those who are different from the rest in general, then we can often see that society does not want to accept people "not like" the rest. Even the slightest manifestation of individuality can cause ridicule, hostility, misunderstanding and even aggression from the majority of "normal". Each person is an individuality, a personality with its own characteristics and mental properties. nine0003

The inner world of each person is a whole universe. We have no right to tell people how they should live, speak, dress, etc. We should not try to change them, if their “wrongness”, of course, does not harm the life and health of others. We must accept everyone for who they are, regardless of their gender, religion, political or even sexual affiliation. Everyone has the right to be themselves.

More details about the Aversia project can be found at this link. nine0003


Landis' experiments

Landis' experiments are also called Spontaneous Facial Expressions and Subordination. A series of these experiments was carried out by psychologist Carini Landis in Minnesota in 1924. The purpose of the experiment was to identify the general patterns of work of facial muscle groups that are responsible for the expression of emotions, as well as to search for facial expressions characteristic of these emotions. The participants in the experiments were students of Landis.

For a more distinct display of facial expressions, special lines were drawn on the faces of the subjects. After that, they were presented with something capable of causing strong emotional experiences. For disgust, students sniffed ammonia, for excitement they watched pornographic pictures, for pleasure they listened to music, and so on. nine0003

But the last experiment, in which the subjects had to cut off the head of a rat, caused the widest resonance. And at first, many participants flatly refused to do it, but in the end they did it anyway. The results of the experiment did not reflect any regularity in the expressions of people's faces, but they showed how ready people are to obey the will of the authorities and are able, under this pressure, to do what they would never do under normal conditions.

It's the same in life: when everything is perfect and goes as it should, when everything goes on as usual, then we feel self-confident people, have our own opinion and preserve our individuality. But as soon as someone puts pressure on us, most of us immediately cease to be ourselves. Landis' experiments once again proved that a person easily "bends" under others, ceases to be independent, responsible, reasonable, etc. nine0003

In fact, no authority can force us to do what we do not want. Especially if it entails causing harm to other living beings. If every person is aware of this, then it is quite likely that this will be able to make our world much more humane and civilized, and life in it - more comfortable and better.

You can learn more about Landis' experiments here.


Little Albert

An experiment called "Baby Albert" or "Little Albert" was carried out in New York at 1920 year by psychologist John Watson, who, by the way, is the founder of behaviorism - a special direction in psychology. The experiment was conducted in order to find out how fear is formed on objects that had not caused any fear before.

A nine-month-old boy named Albert was taken for the experiment. For some time he was shown a white rat, a rabbit, cotton wool and other white objects. The boy played with the rat and got used to it. After that, when the boy started playing with the rat again, the doctor would hit the metal with a hammer, causing the boy a very unpleasant feeling. After a certain period of time, Albert began to avoid contact with a rat, and even later at the sight of a rat, as well as cotton wool, a rabbit, etc. started crying. nine0003

As a result of the experiment, it was suggested that fears are formed in a person at a very early age and then remain for life. As for Albert, his unreasonable fear of a white rat remained with him for the rest of his life.

The results of the "Little Albert" experiment, firstly, remind us again how important it is to pay attention to any little things in the process of raising a child. Something that seems to us at first glance quite insignificant and overlooked, can in some strange way be reflected in the psyche of the child and develop into some kind of phobia or fear. nine0003

When raising children, parents should be extremely attentive and observe everything that surrounds them and how they react to it. Secondly, thanks to what we now know, we can identify, understand and work through some of our fears, the cause of which we cannot find. It is quite possible that what we are unreasonably afraid of came to us from our own childhood. And how nice it can be to get rid of some fears that tormented or simply bothered in everyday life?!

Learn more about the Little Albert experiment here. nine0003


Acquired (learned) helplessness

Acquired helplessness is a mental state in which an individual does absolutely nothing to somehow improve his situation, even having such an opportunity. This state appears mainly after several unsuccessful attempts to influence the negative effects of the environment. As a result, a person refuses any action to change or avoid a harmful environment; the feeling of freedom and faith in one's own strength are lost; depression and apathy appear. nine0003

This phenomenon was first discovered in 1966 by two psychologists: Martin Seligman and Steve Mayer. They conducted experiments on dogs. The dogs were divided into three groups. The dogs from the first group sat in the cages for a while and were released. Dogs from the second group were subjected to small electric shocks, but were given the opportunity to turn off the electricity by pressing the lever with their paws. The third group was subjected to the same shocks, but without the possibility of turning it off. After some time, the dogs from the third group were placed in a special aviary, from which it was easy to get out by simply jumping over the wall. nine0003

In this enclosure, the dogs were also subjected to electric shocks, but they continued to remain in place. This told the scientists that the dogs had developed "learned helplessness" and became confident that they were helpless in the face of the outside world. After the scientists concluded that the human psyche behaves in a similar way after several failures. But was it worth it to torture dogs in order to find out what, in principle, we all have known for so long?

Probably, many of us can remember examples of confirmation of what the scientists proved in the above experiment. Every person in life can have a losing streak when it seems that everything and everyone is against you. These are moments when you give up, you want to give up everything, stop wanting something better for yourself and your loved ones. Here you need to be strong, show fortitude of character and fortitude. It is these moments that temper us and make us stronger. Some people say that this is how life tests strength. nine0003

And if you pass this test steadfastly and with your head held high, then luck will be favorable. But even if you don't believe in such things, just remember that it's not always good or always bad. one always replaces the other. Never lower your head and betray your dreams - they, as they say, will not forgive you for this. In difficult moments of life, remember that there is a way out of any situation and you can always “jump over the wall of the enclosure”, and the darkest hour is before dawn.

You can read more about learned helplessness and related experiments here.


A boy raised like a girl

This experiment is one of the most brutal in history. It, so to speak, was held from 1965 to 2004 in Baltimore (USA). In 1965, a boy named Bruce Reimer was born there, whose penis was damaged during a circumcision procedure. Parents, not knowing what to do, turned to psychologist John Money and he "recommended" them to simply change the sex of the boy and raise him as a girl. nine0003

The parents followed the "advice", gave permission for the sex change operation and began to raise Bruce as Brenda. In fact, Dr. Mani has long wanted to conduct an experiment to prove that gender is due to upbringing, and not nature. The boy Bruce became his guinea pig.

Despite the fact that Mani noted in his reports that the child grows up as a full-fledged girl, parents and school teachers argued that, on the contrary, the child shows all the properties of a boy's character. Both the parents of the child and the child himself experienced extreme stress for many years. A few years later, Bruce-Brenda nevertheless decided to become a man: he changed his name and became David, changed his image and performed several operations to “return” to male physiology. He even got married and adopted his wife's children. But in 2004, after breaking up with his wife, David committed suicide. He was 38 years old. nine0003

What can be said about this "experiment" in relation to our daily life? Probably, only that a person is born with a certain set of qualities and predispositions, determined by genetic information. Fortunately, not many people try to make daughters out of their sons or vice versa. But, nevertheless, while raising their child, some parents do not seem to want to notice the peculiarities of the character of their child and his emerging personality. They want to "sculpt" the child, as if from plasticine - to make him the way they themselves want to see him, without taking into account his individuality. nine0003

And this is unfortunate because it is because of this that many people in adulthood feel their unfulfillment, frailty and meaninglessness of being, do not enjoy life. The small finds confirmation in the big, and any influence we have on children will be reflected in their future life. Therefore, it is worth being more attentive to your children and understanding that every person, even the smallest one, has his own path and you need to try with all your might to help him find it.

And some details of the life of David Reimer himself are here at this link.

The experiments considered by us in this article, as you might guess, represent only a small part of the total number ever carried out. But even they show us, on the one hand, how multifaceted and little studied the personality of a person and his psyche. And, on the other hand, what a great interest a person arouses in himself, and how much effort is made so that he can know his nature. nine0003

Despite the fact that such a noble goal was often achieved by far from noble means, one can only hope that a person has already somehow succeeded in his aspiration, and experiments that are harmful to a living being will cease to be carried out. We can say with confidence that it is possible and necessary to study the psyche and personality of a person for many more centuries, but this should be done only on the basis of considerations of humanism and humanity.