A Timeline Of Influential Psychological Experiments

Experiments involving human subjects have contributed significantly to our understanding of human behavior, although many of them have involved controversial ethical quandaries. The Onion provides a look back at history’s most influential psychological experiments.

Alabama Project (1819-Present)

The largest and most controversial psychological experiment in American history, the Alabama Project is an ongoing study of the effects of poor socioeconomic conditions, humid heat, and persistent racial tension on several million participants.


Pavlov’s Dogs (1890s)

This classic conditioning test involving a dog that is fed a treat every time a bell is rung proved the theory that dogs being hungry for treats causes nearby bells to ring.

The Monster Study (1939)

An experiment done on 22 orphans, so just from that right there you know it’s going to be pretty screwed up.


Project MKUltra (1953-1973)

A series of illegal experiments on brainwashing and mind control led the CIA to conclude that they could get funding for just about anything.


Milgram Experiment (1963)

Researchers made the groundbreaking discovery that humans have the capacity to be cruel toward one another.


The Bystander Effect (1968)

In this barbaric experiment, participants were compelled to help other people.

Stanford Prison Experiment (1971)

The weeklong experiment involving college students becoming either prisoners or prison guards proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that incarceration is the best way to rehabilitate people.


Columbia Extinguisher Study (1979)

Two rival professors made headlines testing competing hypotheses about humans’ innate desire to not be on fire.


Nacho Fries (2018)

Taco Bell ran a nationwide experiment effectively determining that Americans have low self-worth and lack impulse control.


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