Little Albert Experiment by John Watsons

High School ・Psychology ・APA

With the goal of explaining classical conditioning, John Watson performed the little Albert experiment. This illustrates the correlation in humans of a particular action with an unrelated stimulus. Together with Rosalie Rayner, John Watson, a psychologist, managed to condition a previously fearless child to fear a rat (Beck, Levinson, & Irons, 2009). Watson was able to study the effect of classical conditioning on the development of a specific phobia through the experiment.
Albert had no phobia of fuzzy and white things, including rats and mice, at first. In reality, they liked the 9-month-old baby. Therefore, white furry objects acted as neutral stimulus. These objects elicited no response from Albert. The unconditioned stimulus in the research was a loud noise, which made the infant respond negatively by displaying obvious fear and crying. To form the fear, John Watson and Rayner continuously paired the neutral stimulus- the white furry object with the loud noise, which acted as an unconditioned stimulus. As a result, little Albert formed the conditioned response of fear and crying, which was associated with the white furry objects rather than the loud noise Evidently, emotional reactions can be classically-conditioned in human beings. From the experiment, it is true that stimulus generalization occurred. This is the reason little Albert became fearful of all objects that were deemed white and furry. This proves that fear is an entirely conditioned response.

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Beck, H., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009). Finding little Albert: A journey to John B. Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psychologist, 64(7), 605-614.

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