10 unusual psychological experiments on people

Human history is full of dark pages. And in the history of science, extremely dubious and ambiguous things also happened. Some of the experiments that psychologists have done on people will give you a real shock. Sometimes people (subjects) behaved completely unpredictable, giving scientists the opportunity to draw important conclusions about human nature in general.

Human psychology is an extremely mysterious thing, it is not surprising that sometimes experimenters received unpredictable results. Today we are going to tell you about 10 of the most shocking human experiments. It will be interesting!

10 psychological experiments on people

10 unusual psychological experiments on people

1. Milgram’s experiment

Stanley Milgram is an American social psychologist who was interested in dictatorial regimes. He wanted to understand what makes people feel the need for power and submission to others. He studied the phenomenon of Nazism in Nazi Germany. “It feels like their whole country has gone crazy!” – wrote the psychologist.

Milgram conducted an interesting experiment in which a subject and a hired actor took part. The subject was asked to ask the actor questions, mostly arithmetic, and for each wrong answer – to give a charge of current. With each wrong answer, the charge grew stronger. In the last phase of the study, the subject could give such a high charge of current that it would kill the subject.

Milgram's experiment
Left – Stanley Milgram

Naturally, many subjects did not reach the last stage, but there were those who were convinced by the authority of Stanley Milgram, who kept repeating that he was responsible for everything that happened here.

* The current charges were fake. The actor was just acting out pain.

Milgram’s experiment showed that a person is subject to a strong influence of authority and will obey his will. This is a unique phenomenon on which any dictatorial regime is based.

Read also: 9 most amazing psychological studies in history

2. Stanford Prison Experiment

This study was aimed at studying the specifics of the behavior of people performing different social roles. A group of people were placed in a prison (simulated, of course) and divided into 2 groups, guards and inmates. So each subject very quickly got used to his role. And one of the guards on the 3rd day even showed sadistic inclinations.

Stanford Prison Experiment

The experiment was planned to be carried out for 2 weeks, but it was stopped already on the 6th day, since most of the subjects got used to their roles too much. Some guards began to abuse their power, subjecting prisoners to psychological torture, and they experienced real suffering.

Conclusion: people can behave in very different ways, depending on the conditions in which they find themselves.

3. Acquired helplessness syndrome

This cruel experiment was performed on rats. Several individuals were placed in a container with water and left. Some of the rats began to drown, but there were also those who desperately tried to survive, floundering with all their might. The experimenters saved them from death.

white rats

After some time, these rescued rats were also lowered into the water. So it was noticed that they began to flounder even more actively, fleeing death, than last time. Scientists concluded that intelligent beings are able to learn that there is a way out of any situation. Well, those who immediately give up, without doing anything, become depressed and helpless.

4. Ringelman’s experiment

Ringelmann's experiment

In the course of this study, it was noticed that people work in different efficiency depending on the size of the group in which they belong. The subjects were asked to lift a weight of 50 kg. The combined 2 people were supposed to lift 100 kg, but no. It turned out that, working in a group, we reduce our efficiency by 7%… This is due to the fact that the larger the group, the less responsibility each individual feels, respectively, the less efforts he will undertake.

5. Project “Aversia”

This psychological experiment was a set of inhuman activities aimed at people with a non-traditional sexual orientation. They wanted to “retrain” them by force. The investigators used a variety of torture, including electric shock, and even chemical castration.


Initially, it was assumed that sexual orientation could be changed by force. But practice has shown that this is impossible. In fact, the experimenters simply crippled the psyche of the people they were testing.

6. Little Albert

This experiment was conducted by the father of behaviorism, John Watson. The subject was a 9-year-old boy who was asked to play with a white rat. He really liked the animal.

Little Albert

After some time, the experimenter began to scratch the iron with a hammer every time the boy picked up a rat. So the subject began to form negative associations with white rats. When the subject grew up, the psychologist diagnosed him with ratophobia.

Conclusion: people’s fears are irrational and are formed in early childhood.

7. Landis experiment

The subjects were told that they planned to study facial expressions on their faces. They were asked to do various things, for example, sniff ammonia or watch erotic pictures. But it was just a ruse. At some stage, a group of subjects were asked to take a rat and cut off its head. Many resisted, but in the end, everyone did it.


Conclusion: if a person is interested and has already invested in some business, it is extremely difficult for him to abandon it.

8. “Monstrous” experiment

Psychologists divided the tested children into 2 groups. The former were encouraged and praised in every possible way, while the latter, on the contrary, were criticized and humiliated. Moreover, children from the second group regularly listened to criticism about their allegedly fuzzy speech. As a result, all subjects from group 2 began to stutter over time. They developed a strong self-doubt, an inferiority complex.

eksperiment 8

9. Boy Raised as a Girl

This shocking experiment lasted from 1965 to 2004. During a circumcision operation, surgeons accidentally injured the boy’s genitals. The parents were very worried and were forced to turn to a psychologist, who advised the boy to undergo gender reassignment surgery. He also advised parents to raise their son as a daughter and treat him accordingly. The boy’s parents heeded the words of the expert and decided to follow his advice.

10 unusual psychological experiments on people

In fact, this psychologist had a theory that he wanted to test in practice. Its essence is that our behavior is not conditioned by nature, but by upbringing.

The results of the experiment were pretty sad. Despite the sex reassignment surgery and treating himself as a girl, the subject still felt like a man. When he grew up, he underwent surgery to return to the male body. However, his psyche was broken and he suffered greatly.

10. Hotthorn experiment

Hotthorn Experiment

The research was aimed at examining the productivity of workers. At one of the factories, a psychologist was invited, who supposedly had to analyze the specifics of the labor activity of all workers. But he didn’t do anything. As a result, productivity has increased significantly. What’s the secret?

Conclusion: When people feel that they are being watched, they give it harder than usual. In psychology, this is called the “Horton effect”.

Which of these experiments surprised you the most? Share your opinion in the comments!

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