Rosenhan's Study



To test the hypothesis that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between people who are sane and people who are insane. 

Research Method

Field study using participant observation in a naturalistic environment. 12 psychiatric hospitals


8 pseudo patients (a Psychology graduate student in his 20s, 3 psychologists, a paeditrician, a psychiatrist - Rosenhan himself, a painter, and a 'housewife'. 

Part 1


Pseudo patients telephoned for appointment, arrived at admissions office complaining that they could hear voices. The voice includes words such as 'empty', 'hollow', 'thud'. 7 were diagnosed with schizophrenia, and 1 with bipolar disorder. The diagnosis were without any clear symptoms. When asked how they were feeling by staff, they reported that they were fine and no longer experienced symptoms. 


Type 2 errors were made by doctors, as they admitted the patients when they're not really ill. Pseudo patients remained in hospital for 7-52 days (average 19 days), and


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