The Most Interesting Psychological Experiments in History

Almost all psychological experiments in history have had a major impact on the meaning of human behavior. Although the ethical framework has been crossed from time to time during these experiments, the findings obtained through these studies are of great importance.

These important findings enable us to learn about important issues such as depression today. If you want to take a closer look at interesting psychology experiments, you can examine the experiments in the list we have prepared.

The Most Impressive Psychological Experiments

  • split class experiment
  • Asch experiment
  • Stanford prison experiment
  • Learned helplessness experiment
  • Milgram experiment
  • Bobo doll experiment
  • car crash experiment
  • The Hawthorne Effect

These are the most interesting psychology experiments ever done. Each of these experiments has an important purpose. If you wish, let’s take a closer look at how these experiments are done and their importance.

The Most Interesting Psychological Experiments in History

Split Class Experiment

The purpose of the experiment, conducted by Jane Elliott, was to observe the effects of racism. The third grade teacher divided her class into two groups as part of the experiment. While there were blue-eyed students in one group, there were brown-eyed students in the other group.

On the first day, the blue-eyed group was recognized as the superior group. Some privileges were granted to this group. While the brown-eyed students were in the minority group, the students were shown one by one to emphasize the negative characteristics of the children.

As a result of this separation, the behavior of the children changed almost directly. While blue-eyed students were more successful in their classes, they also started bullying their brown-eyed classmates. The success rate of brown-eyed children decreased and their self-confidence decreased.

On the second day, blue-eyed people became the minority group. This time, brown-eyed children were considered the superior group. At the end of the experiment, it was seen that the children hugged each other and learned not to judge people based on their race, language or appearance.

Asch Experiment

Dr. In this study conducted by Solomon Asch, it was aimed to find out how the group affects the decisions of the lonely individual if the individual is alone in a group.

In the experiment involving a group of participants, everyone was shown lines of various lengths. After that, a simple question was asked. Participants were asked to say which line was the longest, but only one person in the group was a real participant.

Others were fake participants. They knew the real purpose of this experiment. That’s why they chose the wrong line. The real participant knew that the other participants gave the wrong answer, but still gave the answer they gave.

The Most Interesting Psychological Experiments in History

Stanford Prison Experiment

The main purpose of this experiment, conducted by Professor Philip Zimbardo, was to learn how individuals adapt to their social roles. For this he wanted to get to the root cause of the strained relationship between the guards and the inmates. He wondered if the cause of this tension had to do with personality or the environment.

In the experiment, 24 undergraduate students were chosen as guards or prisoners. The inmates were held in a mock prison built in the basement of Stanford’s psychology department.

Fake guards and inmates are tasked with treating them as they do in real life. The students adapted very quickly to their new roles.

However, the experiment lasted less than a week because at some point it was noticed that the experiment was getting out of control. Even Zimbardo said he’s starting to think he’s playing the role he’s playing and not a psychologist.

Learned Helplessness Experiment

Dog subjects were used instead of human subjects in this study. Under normal circumstances, animals always tend to stay away from negativity. No animal wants to do an act that will harm itself. In this experiment by Martin Seligman, dogs were conditioned to expect a low level of electric shock when they heard a bell.

Since dogs are already conditioned to encounter a negative outcome after a point, it was seen that a negative situation awaits them even if they encounter a different situation.

The behavior of conditioned dogs was therefore considered learned helplessness. Although they knew that a negative event was waiting for them, they made no effort to get rid of it.

The Most Interesting Psychological Experiments in History

The Milgram Experiment

Nazi Germany, unfortunately, World War II. He was behind many atrocities during World War II. Based on this, Stanley Milgram wanted to investigate whether a person would obey an order given to him even if it was against his conscience.

The ages of the participants ranged from 20 to 50. These participants were divided into two as students and teachers. Although this distribution seemed to be made randomly, it was not. The students already knew the real purpose of the experiment. The main participants were teachers.

Within the scope of the experiment, there were some words that students had to memorize and match correctly. Students who made the wrong match were given a shock.

Teachers, on the other hand, believed that the degree of shock could range from mild to deadly. In reality, the students were already making the mistake on purpose, and the shock he was given was not real. The teacher thought he was giving the student a shock.

Some of the teachers refused to continue the experiment when the degree of shock increased and they realized that it was causing the student pain. At the insistence of the experimenter, more than 60% of the subjects continued.

Bobo Baby Experiment

The Bobo doll experiment by Albert Bandura left its mark on the 60s. The study argues that social figures form the basis of human behavior to a large extent. Although the cause of human misbehavior is often associated with genetic factors, the opposite result was obtained with the Bobo baby experiment.

Participants were divided into three groups. A group was shown a video of an adult attacking and punching Bobo doll. The second group watched an adult ignoring the baby. This adult played with other toys throughout the video.

In the study, it was concluded that children who were exposed to videos of aggressive behavior were more likely to exhibit similar behaviors. Children in the other group exhibited less aggressive behavior.

The Most Interesting Psychological Experiments in History

Car Crash Experiment

In this experiment by Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer, participants watched a car crash. Then the participants were asked to describe what happened as if they were there at the time of the event. Participants were divided into two groups.

Although each group was asked a different question, the question was the same. Only the verbs used varied. The answers given by the participants also varied, just like the verbs. This showed the researchers that memory can be easily manipulated by the interrogation technique.

The Hawthorne Effect

The Hawthorne effect is a very impressive study that shows a person trying to go beyond his or her capacity when observed by another person or group. Within the scope of this study, it was first aimed to learn whether the work environment affects the performance of the employees. For this, first of all, the light intensity was increased.

In this experiment, it was concluded that there is a relationship between the level of illumination and efficiency and productivity. Then the lighting level was lowered. However, there was no decrease in productivity. Employees continued at the same pace.

Thanks to these experiments, it turned out that the main factor affecting the performance of the employees is the feeling that they have to work better when they know that they are under observation.

How Have Past Psychological Experiments Influenced Modern Psychology?

Today’s psychologists have turned to findings from past psychological experiments to better understand human behavior. Thanks to names like Zimbardo and Bandura, we know more about the root causes of human behavior today.

This information also gives us important clues about how to proceed to understand a problem.