Analysis Of Watson 's Most Infamous Work

2268 Words Sep 19th, 2016 10 Pages
Watson’s most infamous work was the Little Albert study he conducted with Rosalie Rayner. The study illustrated that humans can be taught to fear objects through classical conditioning, ultimately providing a foundation for phobias. Watson and Rayner were looking to answer several questions: (1) Is it possible to teach an infant to pair a sound made by striking a steel bar with an animal, and if so will the sight of the animal then make the infant fret? (2) Can the feared response transfer to other animals or objects? (3) After some time, will the infant stop associating the noise with the animal? (4) What can be done to extinguish the fear, given that it doesn’t disappear on its own (Watson & Rayner, 1920)? In prior work, Watson and J. J. B. Morgan discovered the three basic emotions central to infants: fear, rage, and love. For Albert’s case, Watson was most interested in studying fear. Albert was a healthy infant and seemed to have an easy temperament, as it was reported that he was “stolid and unemotional.” They went about studying fear by pairing a loud noise, the unconditioned stimulus, to the following neutral stimuli: a white rat, rabbit, monkey, dog, cotton wool, and masks with or without hair. Although Watson and Rayner were initially hesitant to carry out the experiment, they began conditioning Albert at 11 months by pairing the loud noise of a metal bar being struck along with the presentation of a white rat. After several pairings, the presentation of the…
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