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Watson and Rayner's Unconditional Stimulus Experiment on Little Albert

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Watson and Rayner set out to substantiate his theory by recruiting a subject, who basically stayed in a hospital attached John Hopkins University, and the conducting an experiment on the chosen infant. Their aim was to classically condition the infant to fear a white laboratory rat. The infant, Albert B. or “Little Albert”, was a physically healthy and emotionally stable 9-month old boy (Watson & Rayner, 1920, p. 1). He was described as a very relaxed baby who hardly ever cried. In the emotional tests, before conditioning, Albert was exposed to a series of objects, which included fire, cotton wool, a monkey, a dog, a white rabbit, a mask with hair, and a white laboratory rat. He had not shown a scared or nervous response toward these neutral stimuli, and particularly adored the white laboratory rat. (chaopret 7, p. 239).

Firstly, the researchers attempted to identify an unconditioned stimulus. They carried this out by making a loud noise, hitting a hammer against a steel bar, and observing whether the infant responds in fear (learning+c, p.74). In this case, Albert started to cry, which suggested that he was afraid. This gave them the method of testing several important aspects of the experiment.

The actual practise of conditioning only started when Albert was 11 months old. The first step Watson and Raymer took towards conditioning Little Albert, was paring the loud noise, unconditioned stimulus, with the white rat, conditioned stimulus. The responses were fear of the
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