The Story of Wendell Johnson

Junior (College 3rd year) ・Education ・APA ・1 Sources

The Monster Study was one of many heinous experimental treatments performed on 22 orphans in 1993. Wendell Johnson was a pioneer in research at the University of Iowa (Reynolds, 2003). The experiment's goal was to investigate the extent of speech defects among orphan infants. In this example, orphans were divided into two groups: one received positive speech therapy, while the other received negative speech therapy. It sparked a slew of criticism for allegedly violating some ethical rules and principles based on the American Psychological Association's theme identification (APA). In the research, Mary Tudor under instruction conducted some experiments on young people unaware of the ethical violation. According to the APA, the concept of informed consent applies widely while carrying out research on human subjects. In this case, psychologists inform persons with questionable capacity to consent before engaging them in research. They are required to achieve consent by informing the participants on the effects and dangers of the study. For instance, in the case of the Monster Study, none of the subjects were notified of the objective of the research (Reynolds, 2003). Moreover, they all believed they were to receive speech therapy.

In the contemporary research concept, the institutional review board would not issue any appraisal because of the severity of the issues presented. Violating ethical standards at the expense of the safety and wellbeing of the subjects does not suffice as a method of deriving purpose or proving a point. In this case, the risk-benefit analysis would incline towards the hazards and adverse outcomes (Reynolds, 2003). Arguably, the research was allowed at that time due to the lack of ethical standards that controlled the use of humans during experiments.


Reynolds, G. (2003). The Stuttering Doctor’s Monster Study. The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved from

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