Psychology - John B Watson's experimentation with 'Little Albert'; ethical issues in conditioning human behaviour
John B Watson's experimentation with 'Little Albert'; ethical issues in conditioning human behaviour
Researchers Watson and Raynor wanted to test the idea that fear could be acquired through classical conditioning. Their subject was Little Albert, an eleven-month-old son of a female employee at the clinic. The child's mother knew nothing about the experiment. Watson and Raynor presented Albert with a white laboratory rat while sounding a loud noise. Little Albert soon associated the loud noise with the white rat and was conditioned to fear the rat. This fear was then generalised to other fluffy white objects such a Santa's beard and a sealskin coat.
It is not known whether this intense fear was reversed. There were many ethical issues in this experiment that were overlooked. Ethical guidelines for psychological research have certainly improved and are much different today.
Watson and Raynor used a white rat to condition an 11 month old child