Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Does Calhoun’s Shocking Experiment Reveal the Condition of Our Society?

“Shocking experiment reveals the condition of our society!”

Such a headline is usually tied to articles describing  Dr. John Calhoun ’s behavior experiments.

Obviously, there’s a reason for that.

Among other things, the conclusions drawn up from Calhoun’s experiment are used to criticize abundant societies, to seek ways of organizing cities, and to explain the origins of feminist movements or the disappearance of masculinity.

In contrast to fake, poorly-photoshopped Albert Einstein’s quotes, Calhoun’s experiment has actually been carried out. One may have doubts about the conclusions of the experiment; however, we will discuss those a bit later.

First, let’s talk about the experiment itself. Although Calhoun’s discoveries are thought to be some of the most important in the history of psychology,  (Hock, 2004 as cited in: Ramsden, Adams 2009) the scientist’s work is not as widely known as experiments performed by Zimbardo or Milgram.

Dr. Calhoun was an extremely famous ethologist who studied mainly behavior of mice and rats at the  National Institutes of Health (USA). The most important experiments were conducted in the 1950s and 1960s. One of most shocking experiments performed by the behavioral researcher is known as the Mouse Utopia Experiment.

During the experiment, a group of eight mice were living in ideal environmental conditions. The utopian universe provided rodents with unlimited access to everything necessary for the animals to survive. The mice were provided with food, water, and nesting material. Everything was available at their paw tips.

Although the beginning of the experiment seems ordinary, the course of the study, as well as the results, are quite astonishing.

What exactly did the experiment look like?  

This graph shows the number of new births in certain units of the mice environment. 

For the rest of the story:

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