I Took Part In A Psychology Experiment For Some Extra Christmas Money (And I Regret It)

Shutterstock / conrado
Shutterstock / conrado

I’m 25 years old now and I’ve just never been able to get ahead for some reason. My resume consists of one part-time joke of a job after another. Yet I’ve got a degree. I’ve got no addictions and no lack of energy. To make matters worse, I’ve got two children to take care of, by myself.

I guess that’s the long and the short of why I jumped at the chance to participate in the psychology experiment at BYU. They were offering $500 for a single day’s work. There was no way I could pass up that kind of easy money. For once I would be able to afford more than second-hand thrift store presents for my girls.

That excitement is what helped me to skip over all of the disclaimers in the contract that Dr. Phelps put before me. Since that day, I’ve re-read the contract a hundred times, sick at the thought of what I overlooked.

There were clauses that allowed the researchers unfettered access to private documents and records. I guess that was how they got everything they needed to know beforehand. And there was another clause stipulating that they weren’t responsible for any of the lasting effects of the experiment.

Yet somehow they forgot to add a discretionary clause, which is why I can now publicly call them out for what inhumane conditions they put me through. Not just me, either. They put four of us through hell.

The college campus was a short distance away from my babysitter’s house, so i just walked it. It was under 20 degrees out, but it couldn’t touch me. Not through the excitement of the $500.

They had all four of us squeeze into the professor’s little office while we waited to be called out. We were all instructed to make no communication whatsoever while we waited.

First out was a woman named Whitney, who was handed a blindfold and led down the hall. Next was a man named Josh, who was given a little stack of index cards and led down the same direction, not blindfolded.

Next up was me, blindfolded. I felt a little uneasy at first, but the assistant leading me down the hall had a passive, polite voice. When I was directed to sit, I heard a feminine sneeze beside me. I assumed that I must be sat next to Whitney. I heard the last, nameless female participant shuffle in and Dr. Phelps cleared his throat.

“Two of you are seated with blindfolds, and before you stand two more with index cards containing specific directions. You are paired by gender: male submissive, female dominant, and visa versa; those seated and blindfolded being the submissive, obviously. No physical harm will be inflicted upon you, obviously.”

I heard Whitney let out a little sigh of relief. Suddenly I was feeling less tense too. Still, the silence and the blindness was unnerving.

There was the sound of a card flipping over and a shaky voice broke the silence. It belonged to a young man.

“Whitney, your brother was murdered recently was he not? I have some-”

“Wait! Terrance, damnit, we have to muffle the others!” shouted Dr. Phelps.

There was a lot of shuffling and cursing and apologizing and suddenly there were big head phones covering my ears. I couldn’t hear a thing.

So I just sat there, thinking about Whitney and her lost brother. Naturally I started thinking about my wife, Jennifer, before her fatal car accident. I always tried to remember her moments of life, but I could never forget the way she looked in those last moments on the hospital bed, lying in a coma, covered in third-degree burns.

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