Little Albert

  • Created by: Dene3
  • Created on: 03-11-19 08:55


  • Aim: To observe whether a phobia can be conditioned through classical conditioning
  • One participant
  • 9-month-old Albert 
  • Controlled observation
  • One condition
  • To determine the effects of a certain stimuli
  • Laboratory experiment
  • Well-lit dark room 
  • Motion picture camera used
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Emotional tests

  • Tested emotional responses to certain objects
  • Confronted suddenly with a white rat, a rabbit, a dog, a monkey, masks with and without hair, cotton wool, burning newspapers
  • Loud sound- striking a steel bar with a hammer (one metre in length and 2cm in diameter


  • No fear response to the objects before conditioning
  • They had never seen Albert in a state of fear or rage and practically never cried ('extremely phlegmatic')
  • When the bar was struck:
    • 1st time- 'he started violently'
    • 2nd time- same thing and 'his lips began to pucker and tremble'
    • 3rd time- 'crying fit'
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Session 1: Establishing a conditioned emotional re

  • 11 months 3 days old
  • Presented a white rat
  • When he reached for it, the bar was struck behind his head 


  • Jumped and fell forward 
  • Burying his head on the table where he sat 
  • The second time, he fell forward and whimpered a little 
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Session 2: Testing the conditioned emotional respo

  • 11 months 10 days
  • The rat with no sound to see previous effects
  • Exposed five times to the 'joint stimulation'


  • New response
  • Did not reach for it - just stared at it
  • When placed nearer, he reached out for it and then withdrew his hand when the rat nuzzled it 
  • Blocks were given as a control
  • Played happily (the general emotional state was normal, the cautious behaviour was only towards the rat)
  • More joint simulation- More and more stressed 
  • When the rat was shown again, he began to CRY and began to 'crawl away...rapidly'
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Session 3: Generalisation

  • 11 months 15 days
  • Generalised to other objects?
  • Presented with the rat, wooden blocks, a rabbit, a dog, a seal fur coat, cotton wool and Watson's hair


  • Played happily with the blocks
  • Retained the fearful response to the rat
  • Rabbit - burst into tears and crawled away
  • No violent reaction to the dog nor the fur coat
  • Touched the packaging of the cotton wool and not the cotton wool and then became less cautious later
  • Played with Watson's hair 
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Session 4: Changing the environment

  • 11 months 20 days
  • 'Freshened up' conditioned response
  • New environment
  • Well-lit lecture room with four people present


  • Responses to the rat, rabbit and dog were less extreme than before in the new environment
  • 'freshening up'- conditioned fear response
  • Even when weak, the response was different from the blocks
  • Distinct learned response towards furry objects
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Session 5: The effect of time

  • 12 months 21 days
  • One last testing
  • No emotional tests were conducted in between
  • Tested with a Santa Claus mask, a fur coat, the rat, the rabbit, the dog and the blocks


  • Test object responses and control object responses were clearly different 
  • Reaction to the furry object was not as extreme as previously but he clearly avoided them and whimpered - on occasions he cried
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