Watson and Rayner (1920) - Classic Evidence (Behaviourist)

  • Created by: chlopayne
  • Created on: 13-04-19 14:02
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  • Watson and Rayner (1920) - Conditioned emotional reactions
    • They wanted to see if they could use classical conditioning to condition a healthy baby boy to develop a fear by manipulating the environment.
      • They chose neutral stimuli of rat, he showed no innate fear. If fear developed, they could state it was because of the environment.
    • Methodology
      • One participant, Albert B. Normal and healthy. Stability - showed little emotions.
    • Research method
      • Controlled observation: well-lit dark room. Mattress on table.
      • Behaviour is observed and recorded.
    • Procedures and findings
      • Emotional tests: First tested him at 9 months with a range of stimuli to test his emotional reactions to them.
        • Needed to find a stimulus that provoked a negative reaction (loud noise)
      • Session 1: Establishing a conditioned emotional response.
        • Procedure: Emotional responses tested. Presented with rat. A s he reached for rat, metal bar was hit (twice).
          • Findings: Showed fear and cried.
      • Session 2: Testing the conditioned emotional response.
        • Procedure: A week later, his reaction to the rat was tested. Rat and noise paired 5 times.
          • Findings: Initially a little afraid of the rat. No fear of wooden blocks. Rat paired with noise, Albert showed fear. After 5 times, he showed fear to rat without noise.
      • Session 3: Generalisa-tion.
        • Procedure: Five days later, he was presented with a range of fluffy white objects.
          • Findings: He showed fear of rabbit, fur coat, Watson's hair etc. No fear to blocks, room or hair of Watson's assistants.
      • Session 4: Changing the environment.
        • Procedure: Five days later, Albert was tested with rat. Fear response was "freshened up". Fear responses were tested again in a new environment (lecture hall)
          • Findings: still showed fear of rat but not as strong. Response was stronger after being freshened up. In theatre, he still showed fear but not as strong.
      • Session 5: Effect of time
        • Procedure: A month later, he was tested again in the lab.
          • Findings: he still showed fear but not as severe.
    • Evaluation
      • Methodology and procures
        • Carefully devised and controlled conditions, including extraneous variables.
          • Low ecological validity, not generalisable
        • Causal relationship found.
        • Study was filmed which provides evidence.
          • Study can be replicated, it was reliable.
        • Only one participant, not representative
          • Control group needed to compare to.
        • Albert may have developed a fear to researchers or Watson, causing harm to him.
        • Control condition (blocks) shows his fear towards furry objects. However, they were presented to him forcibly, not operationalised.
        • The sample: based on the assumption that Albert was a normal baby boy. But he may have responded differently to other children.
          • Raised in a hospital environment - unusual for a baby.
          • Findings may be unique to him. Limiting usefulness and generalisability.
      • Ethical issues
        • Psychological harm.
        • Couldn't uncondition him, causing harm.
        • No consent or right to withdraw.
        • Confidentiality was lost, name was given.
        • Scientific.  Demonstrate  conditioning.  How phobias develop. Development of treatments.
      • Alternative evidence
        • OH Mowrer (1947) - operant conditioning maintains fears that have been formed through classical conditioning. Two-process theory.
        • Biological preparedness- Seligman (1970).
        • Ost (1987) - phobias do stem from traumatic incidents, sometiemes forgotten.
    • Conclusion
      • Albert had been given a conditioned fear response.
      • The study demonstrated "emotional transfer".
      • Watson said phobias will only occur on "weak wiled" people.
      • Watson argued phobia would persist unless unconditioned

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