Case Study of Wendell Johnson’s 1939 study of Stutterers

From “Moral Reasoning in Scientific Research”, there are four primary criteria for assessing an ethical dilemma.

1)     What are the issues and points of conflict?  What is the nature of the moral conflict? Enumerate the point in conflict.

2)     Interested parties. What are the progressive larger groups of people or institutions that are affected.

3)     Consequences. What outcome might occur for each of the interested parties. Consider whether the unethical choice is actually discovered.

4)     Obligations.  What are the obligations of each of the interested parties? 

First, students must read all the newpaper files in Johnson files.

Students will be responsible for leading the class discussion as follows from the point of view described below in relation to the questions above.

Baar 1: Wendell Johnson: Describe the research design of your study

Lorenzen   2. Wendell Johnson: Justify why in 1939 this appeared to be an ethical study

Chiu 3. Mary Tudor: What obligations did you have for questioning participation in the study? Should you have done something different at the end of the study?

Tamati: 4. Orphage: What was your role in the study? What were the benefits and or risks for your participation in the study? What was your responsibility to the orphans?

Nagle: 5. Consider the Univ. of Iowa and its Speech & Hearing Dept. What responsibility did they have for oversight of this study given that a graduate student was involved? Is the Pres. of Iowa's apology sufficient?

Barrios-Beltran  6. Wendell Johnson: Justify why years later the study is suppressed.

Souto 7. Yaire & Anbrose: What data came from the study that justify that some good came from the study?

Chen 8. Bernthal: Explain his position that “the research …. cannot be justified on theoretical, moral or ethical grounds.” Has he gone too far?


Updated Jan. 14, 2009