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Journal Article Review: “The Rosenhan Experiment”

Within an experimental setting, an independent variable refers to the variable which is easily manipulated by the researcher to lead to a certain premeditated outcome. It is the presumed cause. In the “Rosenhan Experiment”, the independent variable is normalcy levels within the patients (Rosenhan, 1973). On the other hand, dependent variables are the presumed effect of a given experiment; they are used for measurement. In the case of the aforementioned experiment, the dependent variable is the degree of insanity among the patients at hand (Rosenhan, 1973).

  • A control group, within an experimental setting, is a group of subjects who are separated from the other set of participants, so that the independent variable that is being tested is not allowed to influence the outcome of the overall experiment (Rosenhan, 1973). Normally, they are used in scientific experiments, which assume complex and isolative trials to isolate. In the case of the “Rosenhan Experiment”, the control group is composed of 118 Schizophrenic patients who are distributed among 12 hospitals (Rosenhan, 1973).
  • The experimental group, within an experimental setting, is composed of the actual subjects through whom dependent variables are impacted, to provide relevant and reliable results. In the case of the “Rosenhan experiment”, the experimental group are the 8 pseudo-patients; patients, who had never suffered any form of insanity. They depict normal patients altogether (Rosenhan, 1973).

In the “Rosenhan experiment’, the research methodology used assumes a constructive research approach, given the fact that the methodology allows for the immediate researchers to identify the possible root causes of insanity, and how the healthcare personnel handles patients believed to be of the insane state of mind. It should also be noted that the research methodology presents relevant solutions to the challenges faced by the research problem (Rosenhan, 1973).

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Subsequently, the experiment at hand assumes an observational trial technique, through which the patients are monitored and their behaviors are evaluated in their respective natural settings. It should be noted that the data collection technique utilizes the element of the large group at hand, to effectively collect reliable data. In the case of the aforesaid experiment, the large group is composed of insane patients, who also happen to be the control group of the overall trial. Notably, the pseudo-patients embraced the approach concerned with taking notes to record the crucial aspects of the experiment (Rosenhan, 1973).

"Rosenhan Experiment” Research Samples

The “Rosenhan Experiment” used a variety of research samples. The research sample consisted of 8 pseudo-patients, who are broken down into; 1 young mid-20’s graduate and the other seven were older participants who also happened to be established members of the society. Professionally, they were composed of 1 pediatrician, 1 psychiatrist, 1 painter, and 1 housewife. Notwithstanding, the 8 pseudo-patients were distributed among 12 hospitals which were owned both publicly and privately in that matter. This sample size was expected to act normally and avoid detection by the staff. They were also expected to take notes, which were to be used in the course of determining the challenges faced by the insane patients (Rosenhan, 1973).

In the “Rosenhan Experiment”, the population, which was concerned with the research, was perceived as having assumed generalizable findings. It is affirmative that the findings were used in a general manner to allow easier identification with the insane population. Safely, it is fair to indicate that in all of the 12 hospitals, which were evaluated and thus, used in the course of the experiment, the notion that the insane behaviors could be categorized was apparent. This is depicted by how all of the medical staff referred to all insane patients as being schizophrenic even in the absence of intense scrutiny (Rosenhan, 1973).

In an effort to come up with the desired qualities and outcome, the experimental research assumed a clear hypothesis, which was directed towards determining whether there was any form of correlation between diagnosis, the insane people are imposed with, and the immediate setting of the environment, upon which the different degrees of sanity or insanity in that matter could be measured altogether (Rosenhan, 1973).

Moreover, the “Rosenhan Experiment” deployed the aspect of the operational hypothesis. It was hypothesized that healthcare providers in respect to the mentally sick patients were subject to the stipulations, which are used in the identification process involved with determining whether or not the insane patients had transformed into sane people. This phenomenon is evaluated by the manner, in which nurses and other hospital staff members treated patients, whom they all believed to be insane (Rosenhan, 1973).

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Insane Patients

Furthermore, it is safe to indicate that the researchers who conducted the “Rosenhan experiment” managed to prove their laid-out hypothesis in the sense that they established the assumption attributed with all insane patients being subjected to a common treatment, which was marred with elements of powerlessness as well as depersonalization. For instance, it was a common phenomenon for nurses and other staff to ignore the presence of the insane patients to an extent, whereby infringement of their respective rights as patients was evident (Rosenhan, 1973).

It should be noted that the insane patients’ right to personal privacy was hindered by this staff. For instance, it is recorded that there was a time when a nurse had adjusted her brassiere right in front of these patients. Various elements of ignorance were common among the patient's way of life so that in case of a patient trying out contacts, they were subjected to physical harm; the staff ignoring patients believed to be insane was common throughout these hospitals (Rosenhan, 1973).

  • Concerning the research findings; the findings for the “Rosenhan experiment” research were that, for one, the mode of treatment to insane patients did not vary with the type of hospital for which they were subjected.
  • Second, the hospital environmental setting was perceived as having direct and intense levels of influence in determining the sane from the insane; yet the staff for these hospitals was not aware of this fact.
  • Third, it was established that contacts of the insane patients with nurses were marred with traditions, given the fact that they (patients) were not allowed to speak with staff. Furthermore, it is safe to assume that the nurses were guided by the baseless stipulations put forth by the American Psychological Associations in the course of categorizing their respective attributes (Rosenhan, 1973).
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However, it is fair to note that this research was marred with a few levels of flaws. For instance, there were moments in time, when the insane patients doubted the presence of the pseudo-patients and went ahead to refer to them as professors and researchers. However, these matters were not taken seriously by both the staff and other visitors. Secondly, there were moments in the course of the experiment, when the graduate pseudo-patients succumbed to the element of powerlessness so that he wished to be discharged and go watch a “drag race”. This occurrence was present even though all of the pseudo-patients had undergone intense training before the research experiment. At other times, he would wish to have his textbooks to catch up with classwork (Rosenhan, 1973).

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With respect to the manner in which the “Rosenhan experiment” could have been performed better; in my opinion, the variety of the control group selected to perform the task was not only perceived to be ready with the experiment; but were also a few in quantity, hence, questioning the validity of the information put forth. This is limited to the population sample used in the course of the experiment, which was represented by 118 insane patients (Rosenhan, 1973).

Thus, training could have been conducted substantively to avoid the withdrawal of the pseudo-patients from the research and also help them to behave as was necessary. Their size could have also been increased to cover most of the activities, which happened in the facilities (Rosenhan, 1973).

Also, I think that the research study was placed at a fair position, upon which the replication was possible, especially because of the issues which were considered to be the crucial variables in the course of the research analysis. The study could have been replicated to cover for other aspects which could not have been established in the research experiment due to the smaller sample size and inadequate training of the pseudo-patients (Rosenhan, 1973).

Subsequently, I affirm the assumption that the research study needs to be conducted further, given the fact that the findings were merely attributed to the environmental setting of the patients concerning their mental state (Rosenhan, 1973). Thus, with further research, other attributes could easily be identified in expounding on the issue at hand. Moreover, further research is needed to discuss the adherence to American Psychological Association stipulations and the creditworthiness in determining the matters concerned with such patients (Rosenhan, 1973).


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Thus, in my opinion, further research should take the direction of establishing the root causes of how other issues can be linked to insanity. It should be concerned with formulating newer stipulations, which can be used to offset the baseless nature of the APA guidelines (Rosenhan, 1973).

I think that the research study at hand can be generalized to the entire insane population, given the fact that it took to expound on the modalities of hospital settings irrespective of whether private or public in determining the treatment offered to the insane patients (Rosenhan, 1973).

In respect to the study design, in this writer’s methodology, it took a significant approach, upon which issues were addressed after the data had been collected and personal opinions were derived in that matter. It should be noted that the research was performed in the natural setting, where the experimental group was present and provided first-hand information to the issues which were scrutinized for efficiency and effectiveness in that matter (Rosenhan, 1973).

In terms of the research findings and accordance with the writer, the research findings were comprehensive and did, in fact, meet the initial goal of the study, which was to define the level of effects which environmental settings have in determining the degree of insanity among mentally-challenged patients (Rosenhan, 1973).

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By the facts laid out in the “Rosenhan experiment”, it was successful, since it covered most of the objectives which had been formulated earlier. However, there is a perceived need to have studied the behaviors of the insane patients as well as opposed to the treatments, which were the key center of attraction in the course of the study as a whole (Rosenhan, 1973).

Given the fact that this research assumed an “observational trials” approach, the need for assessing the behaviors of the patients’ feelings and thoughts towards the treatment is apparent. This is because it could be used to formulate the degree of mistreatment by the staff (Rosenhan, 1973).

To sum up, it is fair to assume that the “Rosenhan Experiment” meets the requirements sought in analyzing a research study. The writer has managed to use the different techniques used in the course of writing a research methodology (Rosenhan, 1973).

Such facets as dependent and independent variables are met with precision and are expounded fairly throughout the study to provide for relevant and reliable outcomes.

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