This paper is provided as a SAMPLE only… I prepared this example on an experiment which is NOT part of your assignment. Do NOT write your paper on the Monster Experiment – it is provided as an example of how to complete this assignment. Please use the template located in DOC SHARING…. Use one of the experiments listed in the instructions!!

Basic Concepts and Principles in Psychology

Sample, Student

Purdue Global University

PS124 – Unit 3 Assignment

Date goes here…

A Monster of an Experiment

1. Identify the study (video) you selected.

· Monster experiment **For YOUR paper, you MUST choose 1 of the experiments listed in the instructions…

2. “Describe what this study demonstrated about human behavior and mental processes using the results of the study along with information you have learned in Units 1-3.”

Dr. Wendell Johnson sought to understand stuttering in more detail. He chose orphans in Iowa and assigned them to one of two groups. One group received positive praise, and the other group received criticism (Silverman, 1988). Since Dr. Johnson used separate groups and applied different methods to each group, his research can be classified as an experiment as he was manipulating a factor, which was the type of feedback provided to the children (Myers, 2014). However, his method does not seem to be random assignment (Myers, 2014) as he chose a small number of children with proper speech and placed them in the criticism group to observe the effects of negative criticism on children with typical speech development and their resultant speech patterns (Silverman, 1988).

Dr. Johnson hypothesized that stuttering was not genetic (Myers, 2014). His experiment’s goal was to demonstrate that stuttering could be reinforced and induced in children who displayed normal speech patterns (Silverman, 1988). This type of speech pattern is associated with early childhood development, in that infants and toddlers begin their speech development by repeating words or phrases, such as ma ma or da da, and then move onto one-word and two-word utterances (Myers, 2014; Silverman, 1988). Language development occurs within Piaget’s sensorimotor and preoperational stages, which occurs as part of typical mental process development (Myers, 2014). Language development, including some hesitation with speech, is considered “normal” development and human behavior (Myers, 2014), and it is not labeled as stuttering. Dr. Johnson posited that labeling and focusing on the stuttering would reinforce the stuttering (Silverman, 1988).

3. “Explain what is meant by nature versus nurture influences and which ones you see demonstrated in the study.”

According to Myers (2014), nature is considered genetics, and nurture is considered environment. As previously stated, Dr. Johnson did not believe that stuttering was a genetic trait (Silverman, 1988). Instead, he posited that stuttering could be reinforced. Therefore, it could be increased or decreased by environmental influences. In his study (Uphold, 2012), he divided orphans into two groups. One group received positive reinforcement (Myers, 2014) for their proper speech patterns. The other group, of whom some had normal speech, received criticism and belittling for their speech even if their speech was appropriate (Uphold, 2012). This group either continued to stutter or developed speech deficiencies, which can be attributed to the negative environmental influences; thus, nurture is applied in this experiment (Myers, 2014).

4. “In your own words, describe social observational learning. Is it demonstrated in the study you selected? Why or why not? Explain your reasoning using reference to the study.”

Social observational learning occurs when a person observes another person, learns from that person, and changes one’s behaviors based on what was observed and learned. Some of the time, the person mimics the behaviors that were learned (Myers, 2014). An example is when a child watches his/her parent and then mimics the parent’s behavior. While the video (Uphold, 2012) did not provide information if the children were in the presence of other children, the article did provide information that the children were corrected and required to restate their sentences without stuttering in the presence of other children (Silverman, 2014). Therefore, it does appear that social observational learning (Myers, 2014) was present in the experiment as children may have been influenced and learned from the experiences of other children (Silverman, 1988). However, the purpose of the experiment was to test whether criticism and belittling, not social influences, could influence a child’s speech patterns.

5. “Do you think this research was ethical or unethical? Explain your reasoning using APA ethical guidelines described in Chapter 1.”

This experiment was nick-named the “Monster Study” for a reason – it was highly unethical and would not be permitted in our day. Myers (2014) stated that research participants should be protected “from harm and discomfort” (p. 28). This relates to the APA Ethical Principles and Code for “Principle A of Beneficence and Non-Maleficence” which means “do no harm” (2010, para. 2). In the monster study, children were publicly scolded and belittled for their speech, which resulted in children’s stuttering remaining, or with some children displaying “normal” speech, stuttering developed (Silverman, 1988). The effects were not reversed; however, even reversing the effects could not undo the psychological harm inflicted on the children. The maltreatment relates to “Principle E: Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity” (Ethical principles, 2010, para. 6). The children were not respected, and their dignity was not upheld as they were scolded and belittled (Silverman, 1988). Myers (2014) also speaks of informed consent. It was unclear who consented to this experiment, as the children were minors and could not provide consent and were orphans. This experiment was unethical and would not be conducted today.


Ethical principles of psychologists. (2010). General principles. Retrieved from

Myers, D. (2014). Exploring psychology (9th ed.). New York: NY: Worth Publishers

Silverman, F. H. (1988). The monster study. Journal of Fluency Disorders13(3), 225-231.

Uphold, C. [digitalscreen]. (2012, April 12). Monster study [Video file]. Retrieved from

Comments are closed.