Sane confederates went into psychiatric hospitals and told medical health professionals they had a hallucination, and observed whether staff would realise that they were sane.
If staff did not detect their sanity, it would have implications for methods of diagnosing mental illness and show that situational factors affect diagnosis.
Validity is the extent to which we are measuring what we are intending to measure.
In the case of an illness like schizophrenia we have to consider the validity of the diagnostic tools; for example, do different assessment systems arrive at the same diagnosis for the same patient?
Method: 8 confederates acted as pseudopatients, going to 12 different hospitals.
The real participants were the hospital staff who did not know about the experiment.However, physicians may not identify sanity because it is less risky to diagnose a healthy person as sick than vice versa.So therefore situational factors do affect diagnosis.They said that the voices were unclear, unfamiliar and of the same sex as the pseudopatient.Pseudopatients gave false names, occupations and symptoms, but gave real life histories.Conclusion: Psychiatric staff cannot always distinguish sanity from insanity.Any diagnostic method that makes such errors cannot be very reliable or valid.Exam Hint: It is important to ensure you understand the distinction between reliability and validity as many students confuse the two concepts.Aim: To investigate how situational factors affect a diagnosis of schizophrenia.In order for a classification system to be reliable, the same diagnosis should be made each time.Therefore different psychiatrists should reach the same decision when assessing a patient.