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The Monster Study by Wendell Johnson

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Harrison Holder

on 2 November 2012

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Transcript of The Monster Study by Wendell Johnson

The Monster Study By Wendell Johnson Background of Wendell Johnson He was born in Roxbury, Kansas. He was about 20 years old when he arrived at The University of Iowa in Iowa City to study English in 1926. Wendell also had a stuttered horribly which didn't allow him to express himself verbally, so he did it in his writing; which is why he was studying English. The University of Iowa is the most famous school for stuttering research. When he arrived at the school dozens of experiments were already under way, but he threw himself into the experiments as well, and switched his major to psychology and he became a speech pathologist. The Experiment Wendell was able to speak perfectly fine until the age of 5 or 6 when his teacher mentioned to his parents that he had started to stutter. From there on out, he became self-conscious about it and came to the conclusions that by worrying about his speech problem, he had produced the stuttering by himself. in 1938 he recruited one of his graduate students to help him test just that theory. Mary Tudor was to under take this experiment with Wendell supervising her work. She went down to the Soldiers and Sailors Orphans' Home which housed orphans from the parents who had died in the Civil War and children during the Great Depression. She picked 22 subjects who were not told the true reason for the experiment, and that it was for speech therapy only. 10 of the subjects had stuttering problems and were divided into two groups, one with the reinforcement that their speech is perfectly fine (group 1A) and the other with the negative reinforcement that their speech is "as bad as people say" (group 2B). The remaining 12 were chosen at random from the orphans that could speak perfectly fine. Experiment Continued Six of the normal orphans were placed in another group being told that they are starting to stutter (group 2A), and six to the group that were told that they were perfectly normal and were given compliments (group2B). The experiment lasted from January until late May of 1939. Tudor would visit every week and speak with each kid for 45 minutes and told the group one that they would out grow the stuttering and to not pay attention to anyone who said anything about their stuttering. Then, to group two A she told them that they had a very bad condition of stuttering and not to speak unless they could do it right. Changes in the orphan's talking changed over the next week weeks, some boys wouldn't talk in class, and some girls wouldn't talk at all. One girl was so affected by the experiment that she ran away to another school taking herself out of the experiment. After the experiment period was over she would return a few times and tell group 2A that they could talk perfectly fine, but the orphans were still affected by the experiment. Tudor thought that they would recover eventually. Results from the Experiment In the group of six orphans who were falsely labeled as stutters, two orphans actually increased their speech, two stayed the same, and two dropped. In the group that had stutters but were told that they spoke fine, two increased in fluency, two decreased, and one remained about the same. Group 2A began to act like stutters, and showed behavior changes. Controversy This experiment reached national news in the wake of a series of articles conducted by an investigative reporter at the San Jose Mercury News in 2001. Richard Schwartz concludes in Chapter 6 of the book that the Monster Study "was unfortunate in Tudor and Johnson's lack of regard for the potential harm to the children who participated and in their selection of institutionalized children simply because they were easily available. The deception and the apparent lack of debriefing were also not justifiable. Some say that the ethical standards were different back then than they are now. Also, others felt like the study was poorly executed by Tudor and that the results fail to offer proof of Johnson's hypothesis that "stuttering begins, not in the child's mouth but in the parent's ear." Today some of the orphans in the experiment still suffer from psychological problems from the 1931 experiment. Each of the participants was paid $925,000 by the State of Iowa for lifelong psychological and emotional scars caused by six months of torment during the Iowa University experiment. The Means Justified??? Wendell's experiment does not justify his means at all. For starters, his experiment was not a success, it only changed a few orphans and those orphans did not necessarily react to their group accordingly. Next, he gave some of the orphans speaking problems for the rest of their lives. And lastly he did not inform the participants on the real purpose of the experiment. The World Today Wendell Johnson's experiment has not made this world a better place because his experiment did not work, if it did work then if would have made stutters all over the world able to be cured. Also, some of the orphans he tested kept or gained a stutter for the rest of their lives. What Would the World be like Today?
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