Not everyone believes that biology is our destiny. Many scientists whole-heartedly believe it is our experiences in life that count. They believe that it is our up-bringing, education, and our environment that form our behaviour, beliefs and characteristics. Chief among scientists in this field of thought is psychologist John Watson. Watson developed a theory that we are not restricted to our genetic make-up, but instead we arrive into the world as a blank slate and all our information is learned. There is continuous dispute over this theory with the nature nurture debate strongly in play (McLeod, 2007). On the nature side of the debate, it is believed that individual’s differences are determined by their unique genetic make-up. They argue that all other characteristics that develop later in life are caused by maturation (McLeod, 2007). The other side is nurture which John Watson strongly supports. This side says that we come into the world as a blank slate and through experiences our slate is gradually filled (McLeod, 2007). To support the theory that environment is more powerful than genetics, Watson designed an experiment on an infant commonly known as the Little Albert experiment. This experiment focused on Ivan Pavlov’s process of classical conditioning. Watson believed and wanted to prove that all human psychology can be explained by this process (McLeod, 2008). The other studies that I will be comparing the Little Albert experiment to will be “Elevated fear conditioning to socially relevant unconditioned stimuli in Social Anxiety Disorder” (Lissek, Levson, Biggs, et all, 2008) and the study of Pavlov’s dogs (Pavlov, 1928). These studies will enable me to make a justified evaluation of the Little Albert study by making comparisons to these two other studies.
The Little Albert experiment was conducted by John Watson and Rosalie Rayner in 1920. They chose nine month old Baby Albert for the study
References: McLeod, S. A. (2007). Simply Psychology; Nature Nurture in Psychology. Retrieved 3 April 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/naturevsnurture.html McLeod, S. A. (2007). Simply Psychology; Pavlov. Retrieved 3 April 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/pavlov.html McLeod, S. A. (2008). Simply Psychology; Classical Conditioning. Retrieved 3 April 2012, from http://www.simplypsychology.org/classical-conditioning.html Pavlov, I. P. (1928). Lectures On Conditioned Reflexes. (Translated by W.H. Gantt) London: Allen and Unwin. Watson, J. B. & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1, pp. 1–14. Weiten, W. (2011). Psychology: Themes and Variations. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.