Little Albert Experiment: A Case Study Of The Little Albert Experiment

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The Little Albert experiment was a case study showing empirical evidence of classical conditioning in humans. The study also provides an example of stimulus generalization. It was carried out by John B. Watson and his graduate student, Rosalie Rayner, at Johns Hopkins University. The results were first published in the February 1920 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology.

After observing children in the field, Watson hypothesized that the fearful response of children to loud noises is an innate unconditioned response. He wanted to test the notion that by following the principles of the procedure now known as "classical conditioning", he could use this unconditioned response to condition a child to fear a distinctive stimulus that normally would not be feared by a child (in this case, furry objects).

Method Edit

The aim of Watson and Rayner was to condition a phobia in an emotionally stable child.[1] For this study they chose a nine-month old infant from a hospital referred to as "Albert" for the experiment.[2] Watson followed the procedures which Pavlov had used in his experiments with dogs.[3]

Before the experiment, Albert was given a battery of baseline emotional tests: the infant was exposed, briefly and for the first time, to a white rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, masks (with and without hair), cotton, wool, burning newspapers, and other stimuli. Albert showed no fear of any of these items during the baseline tests.

For the experiment proper, Albert was

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