Little Albert experiment, run by John Broadus Watson and graduate student
Rosalie Rayner, showed empirical evidence of the ability to condition infants
by frightening them.
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 makes a loud noise
by hitting a metal pipe with a hammer.
Naturally, the child begins to
cry after hearing being frightened by the loud noise.
pairing the white rat with the loud noise, Albert began to cry simply after
seeing the rat.
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 loud noise
The white rat
Conditioned Response: Fear
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 behaviorist methodology.
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 - doctor, lawyer,
artist, 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 BF
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.
Many of 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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