Watson's Little Albert Experiment

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Watson's Little Albert Experiment

By | August 2013
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Activity 2 – Watson’s ‘Little Albert’ Experiment

Independent Variable - The rat.
Dependent Variable - Whether Little Albert cried or not.
Unconditioned response - whether he was capable of showing fear or not. Neutral stimulus –The Rat
Unconditioned Stimulus –the loud noise.
Conditioned Stimulus- loud noise paired with any attempt that albert made to play with the rat Conditioned Response-caused the fearful behaviour
Hypothesis – to test the belief that fears can be acquired through classical conditioning.

Little Albert was an11th month year old baby who worked at the same clinic as Watson, and was observed to be a very calm child, never crying or showing fear.

The apparatus used in the experiment was a white laboratory rat, a hammer and a steel bar. The experimental design used was independent- groups design. The outcome of the experiment was unfinished as Albert’s mother pulled him out of the experiment as she moved towns. As Albert’s mother was not fully aware of the experiment on using her son on conditioning a fear response. Watson and Rayner had apparently demonstrated that a fear can sometimes result from learning.

Ethical issues in conditioning human behaviour in Watson’s experiment were that his mother was not informed of the experiment, thus it was performed without her consent. It is also unethical to evoke responses of fear in a laboratory setting. Experiments should not cause the participants to suffer from distress or harm in any way. If a participant becomes distressed during an experiment, the researcher is required to abandon the study and immediately address the needs of the participant. Furthermore, Albert was never systematically desensitized to the conditioned emotional response, and he may have suffered permanent psychological damage because of the emotional trauma resulting from the experimental procedures to which he was subjected.

An ethically acceptable procedure involving classical conditioning would firstly to...

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