Little Albert experiment, run by John Broadus Watson and graduate student
Rosalie Rayner, showed empirical evidence of the
ability to condition infants by
Around the age of nine months, Watson and Rayner
expose a child to a series of stimuli including a white rat, a rabbit, a
monkey, masks and burning newspapers and observe the boy's reactions.
The boy initially showed no fear of any of the objects he was shown.
The next time Albert is exposed to the rat, Watson made a loud noise by
hitting a metal pipe with a hammer.
Naturally, the child began to cry
after being frightened by the loud noise.
After repeatedly pairing the
white rat with the loud noise, Albert began to cry simply after seeing the
The Little Albert experiment
presents and example of how classical operant conditioning can
be used to condition an emotional response:
Neural Stimulus: The white rat
Unconditioned Stimulus: The
Conditioned Stimulus: The
Watson, a poor academic student, attended the
University of Chicago where he worked with John Dewey, James Rowland Angel,
Jacques Loeb, and Henry Herbert Donaldson.
Watson founded the school of
Watson was not concerned with cognition,
introspection, or any
form of internal
Watson was the first to theorize individuals could
be molded into anything.
"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed,
and my specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take anyone at
random and train him to become any specialist I might select -
merchant, and yes, even
beggar-man and thief,
regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and
race of his
ancestors." - John Broadus Watson
John Broadus Watson mentors
In the Monster
Study of 22 children Mary Tudor, under the tutelage of Wendell Johnson of the
University of Iowa, gave positive speech therapy to half of the children,
praising the fluency of their speech, and negative speech therapy to the other
half, belittling the children for every speech imperfection and telling them
they were stutterers.
the normal speaking orphan children who received negative therapy in the
experiment suffered negative psychological effects and some retained speech
problems for the rest of their lives.
'Monster Study' on Stuttering
"The strengthening of
behavior which results from reinforcement is appropriately called
In operant conditioning,
we 'strengthen' an operant
in the sense of
making a response more
or, in actual fact, more frequent." -
All behavior is learned from
the environment through
There's no fundamental (qualitative)
Behavior can be objectively noted and
without accounting for
All behavior, no matter how complex, can be
to a simple stimulus-response
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