Watson and Rayner’s Classical Study with Llittle Albert Essay

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In the following essay I will be looking into the study conducted by Watson and Rayner (1920) on a small child known as ‘Little Albert’. The experiment was an adaptation of earlier studies on classical conditioning of stimulus response, one most common by Ivan Pavlov, depicting the conditioning of stimulus response in dogs. Watson and Rayner aimed to teach Albert to become fearful of a placid white rat, via the use of stimulus associations, testing Pavlov’s earlier theory of classical conditioning.
In response to the question set, I will go into detail of the study, consisting of the background, main hypotheses, as well the aims, procedure and results gathered from the study; explaining the four research methods chosen to investigate,
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(N.B Willey, 1924).
This is shown in the study primarily as the rat to be visually introduced as the emotionally exciting object, followed by the striking of the steel bar as the non-emotionally exciting object. This was constructed to determine whether the former object, in time can be seen to produce the same emotional reaction as the latter object via stimulus transition.
The following paragraph will now look into the opening aspects of the study along with the first research question aimed to address.

Watson and Rayner aimed to investigate; ‘Can we condition fear of an animal, e.g., a white rat, by visually presenting it and simultaneously striking a steel bar?’ (B.Watson, R.Rayner, 2000). To test this method the case study was carried out in a controlled lab-based setting, with participant observation. To first eliminate any participant variables, little Albert at nine months of age was subject to a successive viewing of a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, a dog, with masks and without hair, along with cotton wool, burning newspaper and other variables. (B.Watson, R Rayner , 1920). Manipulation was the most common reaction to these encounters (attempts to touch or engage with the stimulus presented), Watson and Rayner (1920) write ‘At no time did this infant ever show fear in any situation.’

After it was established that there was not an innate

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