The ‘Monster’ Study
In 1939, in Davenport, Iowa, Wendell Johnson and Mary Tudor conducted an experiment into stuttering on 22 orphan children. The orphans were divided into two groups and one given positive feedback on their speech, with Tudor praising their eloquence and fluency of their pronunciation. The other half were not so fortunate. Every slip, hesitation, stutter or mispronunciation was highlighted and mocked, making the children feel inferior for their “terrible” speech. Many of these subjects developed psychological complexes and speech impediments which would last for the rest of their lives. The use of orphan children led some of Johnson’s colleague to dub the investigation the ‘Monster Study’ and it received heavy criticism for unethical practices.