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Little Albert experiment

From Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
One of a series of released photos taken from the test film.

The Little Albert experiment, conducted by John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner in 1920, is a landmark study in the field of behavioral psychology. This research aimed to explore the process of classical conditioning in humans, particularly in the context of emotional responses. In this article, we will delve into the key aspects of the Little Albert experiment, its methodology, findings, and its broader implications for the understanding of human behavior.[1]

Introduction

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The film of the experiment

Classical conditioning is a fundamental concept in psychology that involves associating a neutral stimulus with an involuntary response. The Little Albert experiment sought to investigate whether fear could be conditioned in a young child through the pairing of a neutral stimulus with a frightening one.

Methodology:

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Little Albert, a nine-month-old infant, was chosen as the subject for this study. Initially, the researchers exposed Albert to various stimuli, including a white rat, a rabbit, a monkey, masks, and burning newspapers. Albert displayed no fear towards these stimuli.

The conditioning phase began by presenting Albert with the white rat, and simultaneously producing a loud, startling noise by striking a steel bar with a hammer. This was done to create an association between the neutral stimulus (the white rat) and the fear-inducing stimulus (the loud noise). The pairing was repeated several times.[1]

As a result of the conditioning, Little Albert developed a strong fear response to the white rat, as well as to other stimuli that were present during the conditioning sessions. This demonstrated the successful establishment of a conditioned emotional response in a young child.[1]

Implications

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The Little Albert experiment significantly contributed to the understanding of classical conditioning in humans, emphasizing the malleability (formability) of emotional responses through learned associations. It raised ethical concerns regarding the use of children as subjects in psychological research, prompting the development of ethical guidelines for human experimentation.[2]

Conclusion

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The Little Albert experiment remains a pivotal study in the history of psychology, shedding light on the mechanisms of classical conditioning and its impact on human behavior. While the study faced ethical criticism, it paved the way for future research in behavioral psychology and influenced the development of ethical standards in scientific investigations involving human subjects.

References

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