Monster Study

Monster Study is the name given to an experiment on stuttering performed on 22 orphaned children, aged 5 to 15 years, in Davenport , Iowa ( USA ) in 1939 . 1

The experiment

Devised by Wendell Johnson at the University of Iowa , the research was intended to induce stuttering in subjects who did not present it. Johnson chose one of his graduate students, Mary Tudor , to conduct the experiment, and oversaw the research. After placing the children in control and experimental groups, 2 Tudor provided positive feedback on their verbal execution to half the children, praising the fluency of their speech, and negative feedback to the other half, highlighting all imperfections Of their speech and telling them that they were developing stuttering. The program developed between January and May 1939. 1 Many of the normal-speaking orphans who received negative therapy in the experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some speech problems retained for the rest of their lives. Dubbed “Monster Study” by some of Johnson’s comrades, who were horrified that they would experiment with orphaned children to test a hypothesis, the experiment was kept hidden because of Johnson’s fear of seeing his reputation tarnished by experiments in Made by the Nazis during World War II .

Because the study results were not published in any scientific journal, the Tudor dissertation is the only official record of the details of the experiment. 3

The University of Iowa publicly apologized for the study in 2001 , and in 2007 paid financial compensation to those affected. 4 5


  1. ↑ Jump to:a b Reynolds, Gretchen. ‘The Stuttering Doctor’s’ Monster Study ‘ » . The New York Times . The New York Times . Retrieved on September 25, 2011 .
  2. Back to top↑ Dyer, Jim. «Ethic and Orphans: ‘The Monster Study ‘ » . Mercury News . Mercury News . Retrieved on September 19, 2011 .
  3. Back to top↑ Tudor, Mary (1939). An Experimental Study of the Effect of Evaluative Labeling of Speech Fluency . University of Iowa.
  4. Back to top↑ Retroactive Ethical Judgments and Human Subjects Research: The 1939 Tudor Study in Context , 2002.
  5. Back to top↑ Huge payout in US stuttering case – BBC News