Episodes

EpisodeTitleRepeatedComments
10The Pseudo-patient Study20090727 (BBC7)
20150708 (BBC7)
20150707 (BBC7)

Claudia Hammond revisits David Rosenhan's influential 1973 study of psychiatric diagnoses.

Claudia Hammond revisits David Rosenhan's influential 1973 study of psychiatric diagnoses.

Claudia Hammond revisits another classic psychology experiment, David Rosenhan's Pseudo-Patient Study, gaining access to his unpublished personal papers to discover how it changed our understanding of the human mind, and its impact 40 years on.

Between 1969 and 1972, the clinical psychologist David Rosenhan and seven other people - none of whom had a psychiatric diagnosis - got themselves admitted to 12 different psychiatric hospitals around the United States. They did this by presenting with a single symptom, saying that they heard a voice which said words such as 'empty', 'dull' and 'thud.' Once admitted, they acted completely normally. Nevertheless, they were kept in for periods of between 8 and 52 days. Seven of them were diagnosed with schizophrenia and were released as being 'in remission'; not one of them was judged to be sane.

After Rosenhan published On Being Sane in Insane Places in the journal Science in 1973, the psychiatric profession went on the defensive to protest its diagnostic competence. The study struck at the heart of their attempts to medicalise psychiatry and be accepted as proper doctors. Its impact was felt when the third edition of the profession's bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, came out in 1980: changes had been made which brought more rigour to the diagnostic process.

However, as Claudia discovers from Rosenhan's unpublished papers, for him the study was less an experiment of diagnostic efficacy than an anthropological survey of psychiatric wards. In a chapter of the book he never finished, she reads his poignant account of his own first admission, and his sense that 'minimal attention was paid to my presence, as if I hardly existed'.

Now suffering ill health and unable to speak, Rosenhan delegates his friends and colleagues professor of social psychology at Stanford University Lee Ross and clinical psychologist Florence Keller to speak to Claudia and show her the box containing previously unpublished material which throws new light on one of the most controversial and famous psychology experiments.

11The Hawthorne Effect20090803 (BBC7)
20150709 (BBC7)
20150708 (BBC7)

The 1920s experiment in a Chicago factory that gave rise to a classic textbook phenomenon.

The 1920s experiment in a Chicago factory that gave rise to a classic textbook phenomenon.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

In the 1920s, at the enormous Western Electric Hawthorne Factory in Cicero outside Chicago, management began an experiment which was to improve the working life of millions and give rise to a phenomenon that anyone planning a psychology experiment would have to take into account in their design.

Keen to improve productivity at a time when the telephone industry was growing and Western Electric was building the components for all the telephone exchanges in the United States, management decided to see whether working conditions affected production. But the initial 'illumination studies' were inconclusive; whether lighting was increased or decreased to no better than moonlight, productivity increased. Whatever the intervention, it seemed to promote faster work.

Confused, management turned to economists from Harvard Business School to design a more complex study. So, in April 1927 five women were removed from the factory floor and put in a separate room - the relay assembly test room. For the next five years, as they assembled the complex relays they were minutely monitored. Their working conditions were regularly altered, but whether breaks were included or removed, their working day lengthened or shortened, their productivity continued to rise.

The study improved working conditions throughout the factory, as breaks were introduced for all, but it also gave rise to a phenomenon known as The Hawthorne Effect, which has to be taken into account in the design of any experiment - the mere fact that subjects know that they are being studied may alter their behaviour.

Yet The Hawthorne Effect is widely questioned. How can an experiment using such a small sample - five women, two of whom were changed during the study - have given rise to such a ubiquitous theory?

With the help of the Hawthorne Museum in Cicero, the Baker Library archive and Professor Michel Anteby at Harvard Business School, Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale Business School who met the original participants in the study back in the 1970s, and Mecca Chiesa of the University of Kent, Claudia Hammond re-examines the classic Hawthorne Studies.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

In the 1920s, at the enormous Western Electric Hawthorne Factory in Cicero outside Chicago, management began an experiment which was to improve the working life of millions and give rise to a phenomenon that anyone planning a psychology experiment would have to take into account in their design.

Keen to improve productivity at a time when the telephone industry was growing and Western Electric was building the components for all the telephone exchanges in the United States, management decided to see whether working conditions affected production. But the initial 'illumination studies' were inconclusive; whether lighting was increased or decreased to no better than moonlight, productivity increased. Whatever the intervention, it seemed to promote faster work.

Confused, management turned to economists from Harvard Business School to design a more complex study. So, in April 1927 five women were removed from the factory floor and put in a separate room - the relay assembly test room. For the next five years, as they assembled the complex relays they were minutely monitored. Their working conditions were regularly altered, but whether breaks were included or removed, their working day lengthened or shortened, their productivity continued to rise.

The study improved working conditions throughout the factory, as breaks were introduced for all, but it also gave rise to a phenomenon known as The Hawthorne Effect, which has to be taken into account in the design of any experiment - the mere fact that subjects know that they are being studied may alter their behaviour.

Yet The Hawthorne Effect is widely questioned. How can an experiment using such a small sample - five women, two of whom were changed during the study - have given rise to such a ubiquitous theory?

With the help of the Hawthorne Museum in Cicero, the Baker Library archive and Professor Michel Anteby at Harvard Business School, Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale Business School who met the original participants in the study back in the 1970s, and Mecca Chiesa of the University of Kent, Claudia Hammond re-examines the classic Hawthorne Studies.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

In the 1920s, at the enormous Western Electric Hawthorne Factory in Cicero outside Chicago, management began an experiment which was to improve the working life of millions and give rise to a phenomenon that anyone planning a psychology experiment would have to take into account in their design.

Keen to improve productivity at a time when the telephone industry was growing and Western Electric was building the components for all the telephone exchanges in the United States, management decided to see whether working conditions affected production. But the initial 'illumination studies' were inconclusive; whether lighting was increased or decreased to no better than moonlight, productivity increased. Whatever the intervention, it seemed to promote faster work.

Confused, management turned to economists from Harvard Business School to design a more complex study. So, in April 1927 five women were removed from the factory floor and put in a separate room - the relay assembly test room. For the next five years, as they assembled the complex relays they were minutely monitored. Their working conditions were regularly altered, but whether breaks were included or removed, their working day lengthened or shortened, their productivity continued to rise.

The study improved working conditions throughout the factory, as breaks were introduced for all, but it also gave rise to a phenomenon known as The Hawthorne Effect, which has to be taken into account in the design of any experiment - the mere fact that subjects know that they are being studied may alter their behaviour.

Yet The Hawthorne Effect is widely questioned. How can an experiment using such a small sample - five women, two of whom were changed during the study - have given rise to such a ubiquitous theory?

With the help of the Hawthorne Museum in Cicero, the Baker Library archive and Professor Michel Anteby at Harvard Business School, Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale Business School who met the original participants in the study back in the 1970s, and Mecca Chiesa of the University of Kent, Claudia Hammond re-examines the classic Hawthorne Studies.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

In the 1920s, at the enormous Western Electric Hawthorne Factory in Cicero outside Chicago, management began an experiment which was to improve the working life of millions and give rise to a phenomenon that anyone planning a psychology experiment would have to take into account in their design.

Keen to improve productivity at a time when the telephone industry was growing and Western Electric was building the components for all the telephone exchanges in the United States, management decided to see whether working conditions affected production. But the initial 'illumination studies' were inconclusive; whether lighting was increased or decreased to no better than moonlight, productivity increased. Whatever the intervention, it seemed to promote faster work.

Confused, management turned to economists from Harvard Business School to design a more complex study. So, in April 1927 five women were removed from the factory floor and put in a separate room - the relay assembly test room. For the next five years, as they assembled the complex relays they were minutely monitored. Their working conditions were regularly altered, but whether breaks were included or removed, their working day lengthened or shortened, their productivity continued to rise.

The study improved working conditions throughout the factory, as breaks were introduced for all, but it also gave rise to a phenomenon known as The Hawthorne Effect, which has to be taken into account in the design of any experiment - the mere fact that subjects know that they are being studied may alter their behaviour.

Yet The Hawthorne Effect is widely questioned. How can an experiment using such a small sample - five women, two of whom were changed during the study - have given rise to such a ubiquitous theory?

With the help of the Hawthorne Museum in Cicero, the Baker Library archive and Professor Michel Anteby at Harvard Business School, Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale Business School who met the original participants in the study back in the 1970s, and Mecca Chiesa of the University of Kent, Claudia Hammond re-examines the classic Hawthorne Studies.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

In the 1920s, at the enormous Western Electric Hawthorne Factory in Cicero outside Chicago, management began an experiment which was to improve the working life of millions and give rise to a phenomenon that anyone planning a psychology experiment would have to take into account in their design.

Keen to improve productivity at a time when the telephone industry was growing and Western Electric was building the components for all the telephone exchanges in the United States, management decided to see whether working conditions affected production. But the initial 'illumination studies' were inconclusive; whether lighting was increased or decreased to no better than moonlight, productivity increased. Whatever the intervention, it seemed to promote faster work.

Confused, management turned to economists from Harvard Business School to design a more complex study. So, in April 1927 five women were removed from the factory floor and put in a separate room - the relay assembly test room. For the next five years, as they assembled the complex relays they were minutely monitored. Their working conditions were regularly altered, but whether breaks were included or removed, their working day lengthened or shortened, their productivity continued to rise.

The study improved working conditions throughout the factory, as breaks were introduced for all, but it also gave rise to a phenomenon known as The Hawthorne Effect, which has to be taken into account in the design of any experiment - the mere fact that subjects know that they are being studied may alter their behaviour.

Yet The Hawthorne Effect is widely questioned. How can an experiment using such a small sample - five women, two of whom were changed during the study - have given rise to such a ubiquitous theory?

With the help of the Hawthorne Museum in Cicero, the Baker Library archive and Professor Michel Anteby at Harvard Business School, Professor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld of Yale Business School who met the original participants in the study back in the 1970s, and Mecca Chiesa of the University of Kent, Claudia Hammond re-examines the classic Hawthorne Studies.

12Harlow's Monkeys20090810 (BBC7)
20150709 (BBC7)
20150710 (BBC7)

Revisiting Harry Harlow's surrogate mothers experiment, which revolutionised parenting.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

When psychologist Harry Harlow decided to look at how baby rhesus monkeys learned to recognise their mothers, he didn't know that he would revolutionise parenting.

Claudia visits the Primate Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, where Harlow conducted his experiments, and meets his former assistant, Helen LeRoy, and the current director of the lab, Professor Christopher Coe. At the University of Massachussets, Amherst, she meets Harlow's last PhD student, now Chair of Psychology, Professor Melinda Novak. She also talks to Roger Fouts, Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Washington, about the perceived cruelty of Harlow's work, and to Dr John Oates, lecturer in the Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning at the Open University.

Revisiting Harry Harlow's surrogate mothers experiment, which revolutionised parenting.

Revisiting Harry Harlow's surrogate mothers experiment, which revolutionised parenting.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

When psychologist Harry Harlow decided to look at how baby rhesus monkeys learned to recognise their mothers, he didn't know that he would revolutionise parenting.

Claudia visits the Primate Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, where Harlow conducted his experiments, and meets his former assistant, Helen LeRoy, and the current director of the lab, Professor Christopher Coe. At the University of Massachussets, Amherst, she meets Harlow's last PhD student, now Chair of Psychology, Professor Melinda Novak. She also talks to Roger Fouts, Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Washington, about the perceived cruelty of Harlow's work, and to Dr John Oates, lecturer in the Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning at the Open University.

Revisiting Harry Harlow's surrogate mothers experiment, which revolutionised parenting.

Revisiting Harry Harlow's surrogate mothers experiment, which revolutionised parenting.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

When psychologist Harry Harlow decided to look at how baby rhesus monkeys learned to recognise their mothers, he didn't know that he would revolutionise parenting.

Claudia visits the Primate Laboratory at the University of Wisconsin, where Harlow conducted his experiments, and meets his former assistant, Helen LeRoy, and the current director of the lab, Professor Christopher Coe. At the University of Massachussets, Amherst, she meets Harlow's last PhD student, now Chair of Psychology, Professor Melinda Novak. She also talks to Roger Fouts, Professor of Psychology at the University of Central Washington, about the perceived cruelty of Harlow's work, and to Dr John Oates, lecturer in the Centre for Childhood, Development and Learning at the Open University.

13Arden House20090817 (BBC7)
20150711 (BBC7)
20150710 (BBC7)

Claudia Hammond revisits Langer and Rodin's 1976 Arden House study.

Claudia Hammond revisits Langer and Rodin's 1976 Arden House study.

Claudia Hammond presents a series looking at the development of the science of psychology during the 20th century.

She re-visits Ellen Langer and Judith Rodin's 1976 study, conducted in a New England nursing home, Arden House.

When the two psychologists set up the experiment so that residents on two floors of the 360-bed home for the elderly would experience some changes in their everyday life, they had no idea that they were introducing factors which could prolong life.

While residents on both floors were given plants and film shows, only those on the fourth floor had the opportunity to control these events: choosing the plant and looking after it themselves, and choosing which night of the week to view the film.

Eighteen months later, when Langer and Rodin returned to the home, they were astonished to discover that twice as many of the elderly residents in this 'choices' group were alive, compared with the control group on the second floor, who had been given plants that the staff tended, and were told which was their film night. It appeared that taking control made you live longer.

These findings fit in well with the work on learned helplessness in dogs which Martin Seligman had done in the late 1960s, and on Langer and Rodin's own studies on the perception of control.

Claudia Hammond meets Ellen Langer, now Professor of Psychology at Harvard, and hears about Arden House and the work she has gone on to do on what she calls 'mindfulness'. She visits Arden House, which is still a nursing home, and is shown around by current administrator Joanne Scafati.

Dr Zelda Di Blasi, who lectures in psychology at University College, Cork, sets the study in context, and Rosalie Kane, Professor of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, and Howard Kaplan, CEO of City Club Living accommodation for the elderly, discuss the impact of Langer/Rodin on care of the elderly.