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  • Created by: vicky
  • Created on: 26-04-11 11:36

Rosenhan's hospital study.

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are sane and those who are insane.

The study actually consisted of two parts.

The main study is an example of a field experiment. The study also involved participant observation, since, once admitted, the pseudo-patients kept written records of how the ward as a whole operated, as well as how they personally were treated.

The participants were hospital staff in 12 different hospitals.

The first part of the study involved eight sane people (pseudo-patients) attempting to gain admission to 12 different hospitals, in five different states in the USA. There were three women and five men.

These pseudo-patients telephoned the hospital for an appointment, and arrived at the admissions office complaining that they had been hearing voices. They said the voice, which was unfamiliar and the same sex as themselves, was often unclear but it said 'empty', 'hollow', 'thud'.

The pseudo patients gave a false name and job, but all other details they gave were true including general ups and downs of life, relationships, events of life history and so on.

After they had been admitted to the psychiatric ward, the pseudo patients stopped simulating any symptoms of abnormality. The pseudo patients took part in ward activities, speaking to patients and staff as they might ordinarily. When asked how they were feeling by staff they said they were fine and no longer experienced symptoms. Each pseudo patient had been told they would have to get out by their own devices by convincing staff they were sane.

The pseudo patients spent time writing notes about their observations. Initially this was done secretly although as it became clear that no one was bothered the note taking was done more openly.

None of the pseudo patients was detected and all but one were admitted with a diagnosis of schizophrenia and were eventually discharged with a diagnosis of 'schizophrenia in remission'

The pseudo-patients remained in hospital for 7 to 52 days (average 19 days),

Although they were not detected by the staff, many of the…


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