Behaviorism and Baby Albert

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Experiments are very important to move forward in the world of Psychology, and many have been conducted. One famous psychological experiment is "Baby Albert," which involved a baby named Albert, as you may have guessed. This experiment was constructed and conducted by J.B. Watson and one of his graduate students in the 1920s on a young, nine month old child. Their research involved engraining the fear of white rabbits and white rats into poor little Baby Albert. They used the means of loud noises whenever Albert made contact with the white creatures, and through this conditioning fear was instilled in the toddler. He would cry whenever a white object was in close proximity to him. At the end of the investigation, Watson broke off all contact with the child, and made no move to ensure the safety of the child or the repercussions of the experiment; the question of how Baby Albert lived the rest of life shrouded in mystery. Unfortunately, news of his passing at the young age of six was revealed. He died by hydrocephalus, a condition where there is an excess of fluid accumulated in the brain. Despite the bad ending for the little boy's story, J. B. Watson's success flourished, with the establishment of the school of behaviorism being his greatest feat. This branch of psychology is still practiced and studied today.


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Reading about Little Albert was one of the more interesting parts of the book. This experiment would probably not be able to be performed today because it would be considered unethical. Without Little Albert, we would have a lot less knowledge about psychology, and our understanding of psychology could have been set back for years.

Poor Little Albert! The video you included in your blog post made it clear why the experiment is considered unethical today. To actually see how Little Albert reacted when he was scared of the animals was sadder than just reading about his fear of white furry objects. I wonder if he was scared of furry animals for the rest of his life!
You mentioned that Little Albert died of hydrocephalus, but in our course book it mentioned that it is uncertain that Little Albert died from that condition. Those that think he died from hydrocephalus also believe that Little Albert had been discovered after the experiment occurred. Other psychologists don't think that Little Albert, nor his cause of death, was ever found.

I agree that reading about Little Albert was an interesting part of the book because it's amazing to see that at such a small child, they can be frightened and scared for the rest of their life, even though they might not remember the event when they are older. I wonder if often my fears are developed my something like this, obviously not so extreme, but my fears derived from something unknown.

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This page contains a single entry by fajar013 published on February 26, 2012 11:09 PM.

Consciousness and Free Will: Real, Fake, or Irrelevant? was the previous entry in this blog.

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