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  • do the characteristics of abnormality reside in the patients or environment in which they're observed
  • can psychiatrists reliably tell the difference between sane and insane?


  • participant observation
  • 8 pseudo-patients (sane) - grad student, psychologists, paediatrician, painter, housewife and ROSENHAN 


  • phoned 12 psychiatric hospitals
  • Doctors and nurses accross 8 hospitals (first study)



  • Study one: arranged urgent appointments at hospitals across 5 states,gave false name/address but gave other life details correctly, complained of hearing voices saying 'empty, hollow, thud'
  • ALL were admitted to hospital and ALL BUT ONE diagnosed with schizophrenia, once admitted stopped showing any symptoms, took part in ward activities, observed staff/patients and wrote a daily diary
  • Study two: told a teaching/research hospital of first study and that they would receive one or more pseudo patients in next three months (had to identify)
  • Staff rated each patient 1-10 (1 being definitely fraud, 10 definitely not)


  • STUDY ONE: pseudo patients never detected, all wanted to be discharged straight away but had to wait to be diagnosed as 'fit to be discharged'
  • staff mis-interpretations: writings notes -> writing behaviour, arriving early for lunch -> oral aquisitive syndrome
  • when approaching staff 88% ignored, 10% made eye-contact, 2% had a chat out of 1283 attempts
  • when approaching psychiatrists 71% ignored, 23% eye contact, 2% chat out of 183 attempts
  • real patients spent less than 7 minutes a day with psychiatric staff
  • Pseudo-patients were treated the same - overall 2100 tablets given (flushed down loo) - OTHER REAL PATIENTS DID THE SAME AND THIS WAS IGNORED
  • 31/118 real…


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