Wendell Johnson's Monster Study

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The Belmont Report was written to protect human subjects in research studies. This report led to the creation of the Institutional Review Board Guidebook, which was last updated in 1993 (IRB Guidebook, 1993). Protection for human subjects began with the Nuremberg Code when judging the human experimentation done by the Nazis (IRB Guidebook, 1993). Other studies had been conducted using human subjects that led to the Belmont Report. One such unethical study is Johnson’s Monster Study that was conducted in 1939 on a group of orphans (Reynolds, 2003) that violated the Institutional Review Board guidelines, and should not be repeated. Wendell Johnson, an assistant professor at University of Iowa, wanted to study if stuttering was environmental and behavioral in nature and not strictly biological (Reynolds, 2003). This study is called the “Monster Study” because “it reminded people of the Nazi experiments on human subjects” (Reynolds, 2003). He set up a study, using a group of children at a local orphanage, which would test children who had a…show more content…
First, there was no informed consent. It was not fully disclosed to the orphans what they were participating in. Nor was this information disclosed to the teachers or matrons who worked at the orphanage. The orphans, teachers, and matrons were told to believe that the children would be receiving speech therapy. Without the proper information given, no one willingly chose to withdraw from the study. Second, the children were exposed to a study that caused “significant risk of serious impairment” (IRB Guidebook, 1993). Some of the children had damaging life-long effects from this study. The adults responsible for the care of the children were not given a consent, where risks and benefits were revealed. The children were available for the study and their guardians were not told the full truth about the study and what it
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