John watson and little albert experiment

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john watson and little albert experiment

The Case of Little Albert by John B. Watson

Psychology Classics: The Case of Little Albert

Conditioned Emotional Reactions by John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner is one of the most influential, infamous and iconic research articles ever published in the history of psychology. Commonly referred to as The Case of Little Albert this psychology classic attempted to show how fear could be induced in an infant through classical conditioning. Originally published in 1920, Conditioned Emotional Reactions remains among the most frequently cited journal articles in introductory psychology courses and textbooks.

A psychology classic is by definition a must read. However, most seminal texts within the discipline remain unread by a majority of psychology students. A detailed, well written description of a classic study is fine to a point, but there is absolutely no substitute for understanding and engaging with the issues under review than by reading the authors unabridged ideas, thoughts and findings in their entirety.

Bonus Material:

One of the most dramatic aspects of Watson and Rayners original study was that they had planned to test a number of methods by which they could remove Little Alberts conditioned fear responses. However, as Watson noted Unfortunately Albert was taken from the hospital the day the above tests were made. Hence the opportunity of building up an experimental technique by means of which we could remove the conditioned emotional responses was denied us.

This unforeseen turn of events was something that obviously stayed with Watson, as under his guidance some three years later, Mary Cover Jones conducted a follow-up study - A Laboratory Study of Fear: The Case of Peter - which illustrated how fear may be removed under laboratory conditions. This additional and highly relevant article is also presented in full.

The Case of Little Albert has been produced as part of an initiative by the website All About Psychology to make important psychology publications widely available.
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The Little Albert Experiment - Psychology is Nuts

The Little Albert experiment was a controlled experiment showing empirical evidence of classical conditioning in humans. The study also provides an example of stimulus generalization. It was carried out by John B.
John B. Watson

Experiments on this infant in 1920 were unethical, but became a staple of psychology text books

The Little Albert Experiment demonstrated that classical conditioning —the association of a particular stimulus or behavior with an unrelated stimulus or behavior—works in human beings. In this experiment, a previously unafraid baby was conditioned to become afraid of a rat. Classical conditioning plays a central role in the development of fears and associations. Some phobias may be due at least in part to classical conditioning. For example, a person who associates leaving the home with being abused by their parents might develop agoraphobia. Psychologist John Watson conducted the Little Albert experiment. Watson is known for his seminal research on behaviorism, or the idea that behavior occurs primarily in the context of conditioning.

An eight-month-old baby with rosy cheeks sits in front of a camera. A man appears in the frame and places a live rabbit near the baby. Then the man brings over a small, squirming spider monkey on a leash. Then a dog. The baby, who would become known as Little Albert, seems to have a healthy curiosity about the animals.

The experimental method contained significant weaknesses including failure to develop adequate control conditions and the fact that there was only one subject. Despite the many short comings of the work, the results of the experiment are widely quoted in a range of psychology texts and also were a starting point for understanding phobias and the development of treatments for them. Classical conditioning is a type of behaviourism first demonstrated by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov in the s. Through a series of experiments he demonstrated that dogs which normally salivated when presented with food could be conditioned to salivate in response to any stimulus in the absence of the original stimulus, food. He rang a bell every time a dog was about to be fed, and after a period of time the dog would salivate to the sound of the bell irrespective of food being presented. Many people have illogical fears of animals.

Classical Conditioning

Psychological Experiments Menu. LIttle Albert Experiment. Watson wanted to prove that the majority of human behaviour is learned and conditioned, not in-born. He also wanted to disprove the Freudian conception of psychology that stated human behaviour stemmed from subconscious processes. The subject, Albert B. No one objected to his selection, because there was no one there to object: little Albert was an orphan. He was, however, in very good health both physically and emotionally prior the experiment.

By Saul McLeod , updated Classical conditioning also known as Pavlovian conditioning is learning through association and was discovered by Pavlov , a Russian physiologist. In simple terms two stimuli are linked together to produce a new learned response in a person or animal. Everything from speech to emotional responses was simply patterns of stimulus and response. Watson denied completely the existence of the mind or consciousness.


  1. Mailen D. says:

    The "Little Albert" experiment was a famous psychology experiment conducted by behaviorist John B. Watson and graduate student Rosalie Rayner.1? Previously, Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov had conducted experiments demonstrating the conditioning process in dogs.

  2. Louis S. says:

    How Did the Experiment Work?

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