The Monster Study That Used 22 Orphans As Subjects!


This evil project is a mind boggling experiment carried out on 22 orphans at Iowa University by Dr. Wendell Johnson and Dr. Mary Tudor, where the aim was to have an understanding of their behavioral development.

1. The Conductors Of The Study: Tudor and Johnson

The project was run by Wendell Johnson who worked at Iowa University at the time. It was an experiment on stuttering.  Johnson selected  his graduate student Mary Tudor in 1939 and wanted her to administer the experiment while he supervised it.

2. 22 Orphans Are Selected As Subjects

The horrible experiment started with numerous tests that assessed the kids' IQ, speaking skills, social skills, right/left hand dominance and so on. 10 of the kids showed signs of "stuttering" and "speech impediment." The other 12 kids were selected randomly among fluent children in the orphanage. These kids' speaking skills were determined on a scale of 1 to 5.

3. Positive Therapy Group

After the children were divided into control and experimental groups, half of them received positive speech therapy, meaning that they were instilled confidence about their speech. They were told that they were fluent and well-spoken and they got positive reinforcement as long as they did not make any mistakes in the texts they read. They were given comments like the following: 

"You will get over your speech impediment as you grow and will be much more fluent than you are now. Do not ever care about what others say about your speech." 

4. Negative Therapy Group

The others were given a really negative attitude and were belittled for every single mistake they made, and were even spanked in some cases and were told many times that they were stutters. They heard comments like: 

‘’Our team has identified that you have serious problems in your speech. You are showing all the signs of a stutter. You must do something to prevent your stuttering, or otherwise, you must stop talking. You see how [The name of a kid who was actually a stutter is uttered here.] stutters, right? His stuttering  started with the same exact symptoms as you have!"

5. ''5-Year-Old Norma Jean Pugh Does Not Talk Any More.''

This therapy lasted for about 5 months. It was observed that the children in the negative therapy group and were exposed to negative speech therapy started to have some speech impediments. Even worse, after a while, the impediments deteriorated in those kids who received negative feedback on their speech in the speech therapy. A doctor who participated in the experiment says:  

‘‘Norma Jean, who was talking nicely and freely a month ago, does not talk any more."

6. The Experiment Was Kept A Secret For A Long Time

The experiment was terminated 5 months later due to the negative results. Johnson's colleagues found the the "Monster Study," as many call it, 'creepy' and kept it a secret to protect Johnson's reputation. 

6 of these children were paid $925,000 in 2007 as compensation for the damage the 5-month-long study. Iowa State University published an apology many years after the experiment was terminated.

7. The Negative Sides Of This Evil Experiment

This has more to do with the damage given to the children, no matter how much money was paid as compensation. The most horrible and unethical side of the story is probably the orphan children who were taken as subjects without  even being informed of it. The researchers told the authorities in the orphanage that they were taking kids "just to give some advice on their speech." 

Another unethical side is that there were no reports of the experiment and no record of it exists. Of course, this is because those who conducted the experiment were very well aware that what they were doing was unacceptable, unethical and would get a lot of negative reaction from the public, but they still went on to do it.

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