People Share Unlikely Psychology Experiments With Interesting Results


Humans are weird, and the ways our minds work are a large part of that. Psychology is the study of the mind, and that can lead scientific research in some pretty strange directions.

Reddit user nahhhgeorge asked:

"What are some psychology experiments with interesting results?"


Not entirely sure it fits into the category but the Rosenhan Experiment. 13 people feigned mental illnesses to get into mental hospitals and all were admitted with different diagnoses. They then assumed their normal personalities but to be released they all had to admit that they were mentally ill. There was a second part where a hospital challenged Rosenhan to send multiple fake patients to the hospital and they would rate their patients on a scale of whether they think they were faking. They identified many possible fakers, but Rosenhan in fact hadn't sent anyone.



If you stare into a dimly lit (i.e. candle-lit) mirror for 10+ minutes you start to see hallucinations. What individuals see tends to vary, but they've used this as a test to simulate schizophrenia before because some see monsters / deformities / general weird sh!t.

Yes, it is basically a scientific bloody mary

I did a variation of it for a mate at uni and completely wimped out of it. After my face started not looking like my face anymore (I had a complete dissociation) I stopped looking and just waited out the time.

I can't find the exact study as I don't have journal access anymore but here's ( a decent summary of it in laymans terms

This is a weird visual trick that your brain can play on you, but the effects can seem super real so maybe don't do this if you are susceptible to hallucinations / are a wimp with this kinda sh*t like me



The influence of the colour red in sports. Judges were shown a video of a Tae Kwon Do match and awarded more points to the red competitor (versus the blue competitor). When the colours were digitally reversed, judges awarded more points to the other, now red, competitor.

Red may be a signal of dominance as reddened skin is associated with higher testosterone (or possibly higher fertility in women). Wearing red may induce intrinsic psychological effects which increase dominance in addition to altering the perception of others. Researchers found that putting red leg bands on birds increased dominant behaviour, as they took the "lion's share" of the food.

For my psychology degree dissertation, I presented photos of men to be rated on a scale of Friendly (0) to Threatening (10). Men received a higher threat score if I photoshopped their t-shirt to be red :).



There have been some experiments conducted, but the negativity effect/negativity bias is really sad to me.

It basically says that negative things have a greater emotional and psychological toll on our health than positive/neutral things. So you got an A on a test, that's great. But you totally fail a test, and the world crumbles and it's a total disaster. A hundred things can go right and work perfectly throughout the day, but it goes totally undetected in our minds. Then someone cuts us off in traffic and we fume and rage. I learned about this theory almost three years ago and think about it all the time. Reminds me to appreciate and notice the many little things in my day that do go right.



I'm a huge fan of Milgram's Small World Experiment. It is more sociology than psychology, but I still think it is really cool. Milgram sends out 160 letters containing the name and address of a stockbroker in Boston to people in Omaha, Nebraska. They had to send it to someone they thought would get the letter closer, but they couldn't mail it directly to the stockbroker. Interestingly, most people that sent on the letter sent it on to the same group of people on the 5th degree. It only took 6 people (hence the six degrees of separation) to arrive, on average. It shows how interconnected our world is, even before the internet, which is happy to think about.



The Three Christs of Ypsilanti

Psychologist forces three people who believe that they are Jesus Christ to live together.
It does not go well.
The psychologist, Milton Rokeach, had heard of a case where two women who believed that they were Mary, mother of Christ, were forced to live together and one of them broke free from their delusion.
So he figured, three Christs...what would happen.
They were angry at each other. Often had physical fights. They eventually started getting along by avoiding the topic. He would ask them about the others and each would say that the others were crazy. That they, of course, were the real Jesus.
No cures. Some unethical stuff. Interesting though.



The Car Crash Experiment.

It demonstrated that the way investigators word a question has an immediate effect on the subject's memory of an event. It was part of a suite of studies by Elizabeth Loftus (with various other co-researchers) that began to call in to question the veracity of eyewitness accounts.



Mice were put on two sides of a wall with a door in. Only the right mouse could open the door. Slowly, they filled the left mouse's room with water and eventually when right mouse saw them in danger, they opened the door. However, mice that had previously been on he left side and were now on the right (mice who had previously been "wetted") opened the door considerably faster because they knew how unpleasant it was to be in the other scenario. Basically mice have empathy

Link here:



The phantom limb experiment is pretty fascinating. Basically, you can be tricked into feeling something that's not there. Here's an article about the experiment



Solomon Asch's experiment on conformity. He set up a test wherein he would show 3 lines of different lengths to 5 or 6 individuals (I forgot the exact number) who had to state which line was the longest of the 3. The thing is, only the last individual is the participant and the others are actors paid to answer in a specific manner. For the first few questions, they choose the correct answer, but later on they start choosing the wrong one. The participants are conflicted as to whether they will say the correct answer or conform to the wrong answer as to not be judged by others or due to self-doubt of their own answers. In the end, most do conform.

It's really interesting since it shows how powerful conformity is in the face of doubt, up to a point that some even question their own sanity during the test.

Another variation of the experiment also had interesting results. It had the same set up with 5 individuals with the last person being the participant. However, this time some of the actors say the wrong answer while 1 actor says the correct one. There was an increase in participants who would choose the correct answer and avoid conformity. It shows how much doubt one can have on oneself when alone, but be brought back to self-confidence when they find outside support.

Edit: Conformity in participants might be caused by either being afraid others' judgement or due to self-doubt.



I loved learning about infant development. My favorite was probably the development of depth perception or perhaps the fear of heights. We're not born with it but, if I recall correctly, we develop it within the first year or so. Scientists created a raised square platform, half of the floor was wood and the other glass. The actual surface of the floor, 1 meter or so below, was white with red polka dots. At varying intervals of age the babies would be brought in and placed on the wood end and encouraged to crawl to their moms who were standing at the glass end of the platform. In early infancy baby crawls over there without giving a sh*t. At some point though they stop at the point where the wood meets the glass ( or Plexi glass maybe) showing that they recognize the difference in height and the fear of falling.

Babies brains are pretty f*cking cool.



Reconsolidation: when you retrieve a memory from your long term memory it is susceptible to being manipulated. This can lead to to memories being totally changed from the source. This is why eyewitness accounts cannot be fully seen as true. This knowledge is also being used to help people with PTSD by changing the negative memories they have of their particular trauma.



I'm late but nobody has said it yet. The self-fulfilling prophecy studies are very important to social psychology and their findings have many real world applications.

Basically they brought together a group of kids and formed a class with a real teacher. They gave the kids a test for overall academic skill at the start of the course, but didnt really use the scores. Instead they told the teachers that a few students, picked at random, were very brilliant and scores very highly. They then observed the class for a long period of time and noticed that the teachers gave the kids they thought were brilliant much more attention. At the end of the study the kids took the test again, and they found that the kids who were randomly named brilliant at the start actually scores higher than the rest of the class. The kids, again, at the start didn't score any different from the rest of the class, but through the self fulfilling prophecy they became the best in their class.

This obviously has tons of application in the world and especially education.



I just recently heard of blind-sightedness during one of my cognitive psychology classes. Basically the area of the brain that processes what our eyes see is located at the back of the head, just where your skull starts to get smaller, towards your neck. Because of this, if you hit your head back there quite often everything will go black for a moment before sight returns again. Sometimes though, following severe trauma to this area of the brain (like after falling off a ladder onto a curb or something) a person is never able to see again.

For a long time it was assumed that the eyes were somehow incapable of seeing following the trauma and that was why people were blind, however it's been shown that it is just the processing of the images that is damaged-in other words your eyes are still working away, viewing images but your brain is unable to process the images so you can't "see" them.

Some experiments looking into this have found that people with damage to this area can still navigate around things in front of them, without realising they are doing it. So if you told someone with this damage to walk down a corridor, and you placed obstacles in their way, they wouldn't be able to see the obstacles but they could avoid bumping into them because their eyes are still able to view them and send signals to other areas of the brain to avoid knocking things. This is known as blind-sightedness.

Blew my little mind tbh

Edit: here's the Wikipedia link about it, it's a little bit science-y tbh but it explains a bit better what I was trying to say



One time I participated in a paid research experiment. I was basically tricked into thinking I was drunk.

I was placed in a room with 2 other people and we were instructed to drink vodka with cranberry juice over a period of time while we socialized. After we drank I was placed in a room where I had to read some flashing words on a computer. I felt pretty drunk at this point. When the researcher came back into the room he gave me my car keys and said I was never actually given alcohol. He briefly told me that because I was anticipating drinking for this experiment that my brain had tricked me into feeling the effects of being intoxicated. I immediately snapped out of it and was completely amazed at how I felt.



Aron and Dutton (1974) - Misattribution of arousal.

Men who had just walked across bridge (either steady or unsteady) were approached by a female psychology student, posing to do a project on the effects of exposure to scenic attractions on creative expression. The men had to complete a questionnaire and write a short dramatic story about a picture she provided and she gave them her phone number if they had more questions. Men who walked across the shaky bridge were more likely to call her up because they misattributed the arousal from the bridge to the woman.

TLDR: watch a horror movie on the first date.



Wegner and his white bears. Essentially, people who were instructed to not think about a white bear, found themselves thinking about it more than those actively trying to think about one.


The monster experiment! Although it is horrible how they left the children with mental health issues at the end, this experiment gave very good insight to how to parent a child.

On this experiment, they took groups of orphaned children and separated them into 3 groups. One was the control, the second were told they has a lips and were doing bad, and the third was told that their speech was perfect.

As the experiment went on, group 2 began developing lisps after being berated constantly. They became shy and reserved. They were scared to speak because they didn't want to get in trouble because of their poor speaking skills. Group 3, however, had the opposite happen. They talked better, they were more willing to improve. They were encouraged to keep speaking and told that their speech was amazing and perfect.

By the end of the experiment, they had one group with no change, one group with now mentally ill children with a speech impediment, and one group with great speaking skills.

It truly shows that encouraging children is the way to go and that verbal abuse can be just as, if not more, harmful as physical abuse.



There was an experiment to measure the dopamine (ie happiness) hit your brain takes when eating something you're craving.

The dopamine builds with the anticipation and peaks right as you take the first bite. Then, after the first moment it's inyour mouth, the dopamine levels begin to decrease.

This showed that many times we are desiring (edited to show the distinction made by poster below:) *the attainment of the thing more than the thing itself.

(Edit:) Not to proselytize, but this corresponds somewhat to the Buddhist principle of unsatisfactory desire. It's very interesting.


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