John B. Watson & Behavioral Psychology Part 2

1415 Words6 Pages
Contributions to Psychology During the zeitgeist of Watson’s early career, the focus of psychology was on the analysis of the conscious mind. During the late 1800’s, Sigmund Freud, a leader in psychology at the time, had proposed theories of psychology that focused on the conscious and unconscious mind. He explained behavior as a response to the desires of our unconscious and conscious minds, implying that individuals did not have much control over their behaviors or thoughts. In the early 1900’s, during Watson’s career, the country was recovering from the First World War. American societies were trying to cope with the feelings of loos of control that were brought about by the war. Freud’s idea of human consciousness and uncontrollable…show more content…
In 1920, Watson and Rosalie Rayner, his second wife, conducted an experiment to demonstrate how inherited emotions, fear, rage, and love, could be projected onto stimuli other than the stimuli that originally elicited the emotions. Watson and Rayner used an eleven-month-old male infant named Albert to conduct their experiment. Albert was shown a white rat, to which he expressed no fear. When Albert attempted to reach out and touch the rat, Watson hit a metal bar with a hammer, causing a loud noise. Albert expressed fear by jumping. He was then shown the rat a second time and, again, a metal bar was struck when he reached out to touch the rat, this time causing him to cry out of fear. One week later, Albert was presented with a rat again and, this time, attempted to keep away from the rat. Watson and Rayner continued to expose Albert to the rat and strike the metal bar, which caused Albert to become afraid of the rat. Days later, Albert cried at just the sight of the rat and expressed great fear (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014). Although many argue the ethical implications of Watson’s study, The Little Albert experiment clearly displayed the ability of infants to develop a fear of a neutral stimulus by pairing it with a negative stimulus. These finings were a major contribution to psychology. Not only did the researchers contribute to the practice of psychology as a science by use of the scientific method, they also gave evidence to the idea that
Open Document