9 Unethical Psychological Experiments That Actually Happened

9. Animal Drug Addiction Experiments

By the late 1980s, neuroscientists had conducted literally hundreds of disconcerting addiction experiments on monkeys and rats. Common practice involved teaching the animals to self-administer drugs (typically cocaine) using a lever, resulting in disturbing addiction-like behaviours. In some studies, the drug lever eventually offered access to alternatives such as food, water or mates. However, drug-addled Rhesus monkeys opted for a fix of coke every single time until they starved themselves to a presumably euphoric death. Addicted lab rats would even walk across electrified grids in order to get a dose of Charlie, and were willing to withstand a much higher voltage to access the drug than to reach their food. Worst of all is that the findings of these rather cruel studies are probably completely invalid. A 1980 paper shows that these behaviours only occur in rats that are kept tethered in small laboratory cages. Rats that were raised in a special enclosure dubbed Rat Park (chockfull of food, hamster wheels, mates and probably a couple of PS4s by the sounds of it) were force-fed water laced with opiates for two months but had a preference for plain water as soon as it was made available to them. In contrast, rats who had lived in jail-like cages their whole lives became heroin addicts at the drop of a hat. Today€™s life lesson: prevent your kids from doing drugs by installing a hamster wheel in the garden.
Posted On: 

Peter Austin initially joined WhatCulture as an occasional contributor to our Film, Gaming and Science sections, but made the mistake of telling us that he'd been making videos in his bedroom for over a decade. Since then he's been a vital member of our YouTube team and routinely sets the standard for smart-casual wear in the office.