The Little Albert experiment has become a widely known case study that is continuously discussed by a large number of psychology professionals. In 1920, behaviorist John Watson and his assistant Rosalie Rayner began to conduct one of the first experiments done with a child. Stability played a major factor in choosing Albert for this case study, as Watson wanted to ensure that they would do as little harm as possible during the experiment. Watson’s method of choice for this experiment was to use principles of classic conditioning to create a stimulus in children that would result in fear. Since Watson wanted to condition Albert, a variety of objects were used that would otherwise not scare him. These objects included a white rat, blocks, a
Classical Conditioning. Due to Pavlov’s success, Watson was inclined to do his own experimentation. His most famous, yet controversial, being on “Little Albert.” “Albert” was a child conditioned by Watson to be afraid of rats. Essentially, Watson would create a loud, banging noise. This would eventually lead to the fear of not just rats, but all fuzzy animals (John Watson - Little Albert, 2008).
What is Watson’s Classical Conditioning? Classical Conditioning was found by Dr. Ivan Pavlov. Watson’s research was influenced by Pavlov’s Classical Conditioning Theory. Watson made a research on children’s emotions using the Classical Conditioning model. According to Watson, love, fear, and anger are the three kinds of emotions inherited by humans (Hall 1988). He believed these emotions could be learned through conditioning. He formed his hypothesis and carried out an experiment. John B. Watson’s classical condition experiment was on a child named Little Albert. This experiment was while a child was playing with a rabbit, smashing two bars to make a loud noise behind the child’s head. After hearing the loud noise the child
What Watson realized was that Albert was responding to the white beard Watson had at the time (Howard 2001). Thus, the fear evoked by the white, furry, rabbit had generalized to other white, furry things, like Watson's beard. Behaviorism overall is a good scientific theory. It is simple and parsimonious, with the approach of 'cause-and-effect' idea.
John B Watson the “father of behaviorism once quoted “ Give me a dozen healthy infants, well formed and my own specified world to bring them up in and I will guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant chief and yes, even beggar man, and thief, regardless of his talents pendants, tendencies, abilities, vocations and race of his ancestors. Watson had a plan as to what he wanted to accomplish. He new what his goals were. He had a plan as to how he wanted to conduct the Little Albert Experiment and Classical Conditioning. Watson believed that psychology shoed be seen as a purely objective experimental branch of natural science, he wanted to see the prediction and control of behavior not just the understanding of the mind (Mcleod, 2008).
Watson’s theory was based on the ideas of classical conditioning of Ivan Pavlov who used animals for research and believed that they could be taught anything by watching and copying others. Watson further developed the theory applying it on people’s behaviour, based on the conditioning and training of behaviour and on the belief that anyone could be taught anything as we are all born with the same abilities, disregarding feelings and emotions.
Inspired by the work of Ivan Pavlov, Watson conducted his own experiment, with the help of his assistant Rosalie Rayner, to show classical conditioning in humans. Watson and Rayner wanted to show that the principles of classical conditioning could be applied to emotions, such as fear. Watson believed that when children reacted to loud noises, it was because of fear, and that this fear was an unconditioned reflex.
His most famous experiment is the Little Albert experiment. He gave a little boy by the name of Albert a white furry rat. He let Albert love and play and get attached to the rat. Later on, he would give the rat to Albert and when he went to touch it, Watson would play a loud sound, frightening the child. He continued this until one day he gave Albert the rat without playing a loud noise. Albert was still frightened of the rat. This is the same thing they did to the children in Brave New World to condition them to not like or want books or nature.
Little Albert’s was chosen because of his strong emotional stability and researches think his personality could be “relatively little harm by carrying out such experiments…” (Wastson & Rayner, 1920, p. 3). However, from psychologists’ point of view, his emotional reaction was far from mild and experimenters did not put effort to comfort him (Smith & Haslam, 2012). Although the principles of classical conditioning are useful in treatment of phobias and even medical implications, it is questioned whether its worth to cause harm to the subject in order to complete the study. The unethical research method of classic studies brings potential damages to the participants (Russell & Purcell, 2009). The ignorance of such damages overrates the experimental result and conclusion. Studies should be morally and ethically grounded.
According to the famous “Rats maze” experiment, Watson began by challenging the underlying assumption of instinct (Berntson and Cacioppo, 2000). Watson and Morgan (1917) are considered to be
The Little Albert experiment is seen as very unethical now, but in 1920 helped out psychologist. It was run by John B. Watson and one of his students, Rosalie Rayner. At the John Hopkins University, Watson and Rayner’s goal was to condition certain phobias into a perfectly normal child. Watson was testing Pavlov’s theory on humans, not dogs. They chose a nine month old baby who they called “Albert,” or “Little Albert.”
Crick believed he discovered the “secret of life” because of the unique and complex structure of DNA, and Crick believed and wrote in a letter to his son that it was the “basic copying mechanism” for life, which is implying that DNA carries genetic information
The Little Albert experiment has become a famous case study that has been discussed by a plethora of professionals in the psychology industry. In 1920, behaviorist John Watson and his assistant Rosalie Rayner began to conduct the first experiment that had been done with a child. Watson and Rayner chose Albert because they thought he was stable; he was accustomed to a hospital environment due to his mother’s career as a wet nurse, he was healthy and showed little emotion. Stability played a major factor in choosing Albert for this case study because Watson wanted to ensure that they would do as little harm as possible with the experiment. The conditioning of Albert began with a series of emotional tests that became part of a routine in which Watson and Rayner were “determining whether fear reactions could be called out by other stimuli than sharp noises and the sudden removal of support” (-----). Watson’s method of choice for this experiment was using principles of classic conditioning to create a stimulus in children that would result in fear. Since Watson wanted to condition Albert, he used a variety of objects that would otherwise not scare him. These objects included white rat, dog, blocks, rabbit, fur coat, wool and a Santa Claus mask.
For the second stage, a white rat was used as Watson’s CS, the CS must be a neutral stimulus that initially has no effect on the UR. Little Albert showed no phobia towards the rat before conditioning occurred. By pairing the US with the CS, the infant learned to associate the loud noise of the hammer and metal bar with the white rat. After strengthening the association between the US and the CS by repetition, Little Albert eventually became fearful and upset when only presented with the once neutral stimulus, the white rat. This response was the CR which marked the completion of step three. Little Albert was now afraid of the white rat because it triggered his fear of the loud noise. Classical conditioning can be used to prove many forms of behavior between subjects when looking at the the right unconditioned/ conditioned stimuli and unconditioned/ conditioned responses. The theory of classical conditioning can be used to explain the development of distrust and trust issues in the relationships between people.
John Watson pioneered a new approach to viewing psychology. By making known an underutilized approach to studying psychology, John Watson opened a whole new door to researching how and why people behave the way they do. John Broadus Watson left a huge impression on the world of psychology with his new and unconventional approach of behaviorism and his Little Watson experiment.