The Little Albert’s Experiment

                                                           Little Albert Experiment

 A renowned psychology experiment conducted by behaviorist John B. Watson was Little Albert’s Experiment. Watson was fascinated in taking Pavlov’s research further to show that emotional reactions could be classically conditioned in humans.

Experiment: Watson and Rayner exposed a 9 months, Albert, a child to a chain of stimuli comprising a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, masks, and burning newspapers and observed the boy’s reactions. The boy showed no fear of any of the objects shown to him.

The next time, Albert was exposed to the rat; Watson made a loud sound by hitting a metal pipe with a hammer. Naturally, the child began to cry after listening the loud noise. After repeatedly pairing the white rat with the loud noise, Albert began to cry simply after watching the rat.

Watson and Rayner observed that stimulus generalization had occurred. After Conditioning, Albert feared not just the white rat, but a wide variety of furry white objects as well. His fear included other furry objects including Rayner’s fur coat and Watson wearing a Santa Claus beard.

Major Elements of Classical Conditioning in Little Albert Experiment:

a) Neutral stimulus: The White Rat

b) Unconditioned stimulus: The Loud Noise

c) Unconditioned response: Fear

d) Conditioned stimulus: The White Rat

e) Conditioned Response:  Fear

Criticisms: As the experiment is one of psychology’s most famous and included in introductory psychology course, it has also been criticized largely for several reasons. First, the experiment design and process were not carefully constructed. Secondly, the experiment also raises many ethical concerns. The Little Albert experiment could not be conducted today because it was unethical.

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