Rosenhan's Experiment

Rosenhan's Experiment
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  • I'm going to test the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are sane and those who are insane.
  • Rosenhan has decided what the aim for his experiment will be.
  • Pardon me, Dr X, could you tell me when I will be presented at the staff meeting?
  • Eight sane people admitted themselves into a psychiatric hospital, claiming they could hear a voice in their head saying 'empty', 'hollow' and 'thud'. As soon as they were admitted into the hospital they all immediately ceased showing any symptoms. 
  • The participants took part in ward activities, as they might normally. When asked by the staff how they are, the participants told them that they were doing fine. As they were told that once they were in there, they could only get out by convinving the staff thatthey were sane.
  • In four of the hospitals, the participants carried out an observation of behavior on staff towards the patients that illustrate the experience of being hospitalized on a psychiatric ward. The participants asked the question above to the staff members. 
  • For Experiment 2, Rosenhan told a research hospital that he would send one or more pseudo patients into their hospital within the next three months. The staff were then asked to rate any patients entering their hospital in this time period on how likely they were the pseudo patients sent by Rosenhan, he then didn't send any participants.
  • Rosenhan then compiled and published his results for both Experiment 1 and Experiment 2
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