Little Albert Ethical Theory

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In 1920, Watson and Rayner used infant Albert B. “Little Albert” in an unprecedented experiment of conditioned fear (Watson & Rayner, 1920). Little Albert was discharged from the experiment as an infant and his real identity and welfare remained a mystery until Beck, Levinson & Irons published their identity findings in 2009 (Beck, Levinson, & Irons, 2009). According to Beck et al. (2009), Little Albert (Douglas Merritte), had developed hydrocephalus after the study and died. In addition to Beck et al. (2009) work, Fridlund, Goldie and Irons (2012) stated the hydrocephalus was diagnosed shortly after birth. Furthermore, they allege that Watson and Rayner (1920) unethically chose to perform the study despite Douglas being neurologically impaired.…show more content…
(2009) and Fridlund et al. (2012) respectively. However, these hypotheses have gained much traction in the wider psychological community despite Powell, Digdon, Harris and Smithson (in press) theorizing a much more compelling candidate, Albert Barger. Ethics in psychology is a contemporary consideration and this fresh perspective has dictated a popular practice of re-examining the ethics of historical experiments with superfluous criticism. It is plausible that the outrage over possible unethical practice has distracted from the more parsimonious option presented by Powell et al. (in press). Perhaps Little Albert was the healthy and well-developed infant Watson and Rayner (Watson & Rayner, 1920) had described and was treated ethically as was appropriate at the time. Furthermore, his developmental welfare is still

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