Here we digest ten of the most controversial studies in psychology’s history.
Please use the comments to have your say on these controversies, or to highlight provocative studies that you think should have made it onto our list.
The debate continues, as does the influence of the SPE on popular culture, so far inspiring at least two feature length movies. Haslam and Reicher have again been at the forefront of counter-arguments. The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 67(4), 371.
Most recently, based on archived feedback from Milgram’s participants, the pair argue that the observed obedience was far from blind – in fact many participants were pleased to have taken part, so convinced were they that their efforts were making an important contribution to science. One of the experiments in a 1996 paper published by John Bargh and colleagues showed that when people were exposed to words that pertained to being old, they subsequently walked away from the lab more slowly.
Cartoon aficionados will understand why this memory was definitely false. Further controversy came from the the fact that the journal that published Bem’s results refused at first to publish any replication attempts. Feeling the future: experimental evidence for anomalous retroactive influences on cognition and affect.