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Staff may be more likely to reverse diagnoses when risks are high (e.g., loss of professional esteem).Essentially Rosenhan’s research showed that psychiatrists cannot reliably tell the difference between an insane and sane person, calling into question the reliability of a schizophrenia diagnosis.The pseudopatient called the hospital for an appointment.
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.
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.
Normal behaviour was interpreted in the context of illness (e.g., nursing records suggest writing is pathological).
Staff reversed some diagnoses due to the situation (expecting pseudopatients).
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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.