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The sample consisted of 8 pseudopatients over the age of 20. Rosenhan was one of them.
The pseudopatients arrived at the admissions office and asserted that they had been hearing voices. Rosenhan wanted to test who would be diagnosed with a mental illness after psychiatrists only hear about one symptom.
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All 12 patients were successfully admitted to all twelve hospitals. All except one were diagnosed with schizophrenia. Despite acting normally inside the asylum, once they left they were diagnosed as "schizophrenia in remission".
Staff were informed that at some point during the 3 month period, one or more pseudopatients would attempt to gain admission. Each member of staff was given a ten point rating scale to indicate their confidence that the patient was an impostor.
41 of the patients admitted were rated with high confidence to be pseudopatients by at least one member of staff.
Rosenhan concluded that psychiatrists were unable to reliably identify sane pseudopatients.
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