Rosenhan’s Observation

tdixon Abnormal Psychology, Qualitative Research Methods Leave a Comment

What you need to know…

In order to “discuss observation considerations” you first need to know what those considerations are (read more here). After you are comfortable with at least three or four of these considerations, you then need to be able to apply them to an example of research.

One example of an observational qualitative study was carried out by Rosenhan in 1973; this is a good example of research to practice writing a Paper 3 answer to. The title of Rosenhan’s academic paper on his findings was called “On Being Sane in Insane Places.” This study is relevant for the options topic “Abnormal Psychology,” so it’s worthwhile getting to know the study so you can use it to develop your understanding of qualitative research as well as understanding some key concepts related to psychological disorders (such as the validity of diagnosis).

Basically, Rosenhan and some of his associates went to different psychiatric hospitals around the USA and told them basic symptoms. They were admitted to the hospitals and then took notes on their findings. Here’s the full summary.


Ararat Lynatic Asylym (Image from wikipedia)


(Full “On Being Sane in Insane Places” article here)

Psychiatric Hospitals

Short clips to develop your schematic understanding of what psychiatric hospitals for mentally ill people used to be like…

I highly recommend reading and/or watching “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” if you’re interested in this topic.

Film Clips

Clips from the film “Patch Adams” with the late and great Robin Williams…

Therapy Session:



I want to help people

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest


Interview with David Rosenhan…

What you need to do…

After reading and learning about Rosenhan’s study and what psychiatric hospitals used to be like, answer the following questions:

  • What observation method did Rosenhan use?

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