The Case Study of Little Albert

Watson and Raynor

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  • Created by: Hannah
  • Created on: 12-05-10 19:36


  • To demonstrate that C.C could be used to create a fear response in a child to a stimulus we would not normally expect to frighten a child
  • To show human behaviour could be accounted for by C.C
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Method and Procedure

  • lab experiment- 1 child. 9 month old child- Albert
  • Albert was emotionally stable
  • He was assessed by being exposed to a number of objects including a white rat (NS.) He showed no fear- infact he wanted to play with it.
  • 2 months later: met the rat again but when he reached to play with it, a metal bar (UCS) was struck behind his ear. Made a loud noise and frightened him
  • This procedure was repeated 5 times a week later and twice more several days after
  • Albert's responses to the rat, loud noise and white fluffy objects were noted and recorded
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  • 1st trial- Albert showed some distress, jumping violently and burying his head in a matress
  • 2nd trial: Albert suspicious of the rat as soon as he saw it
  • 3rd trial- leaned away from the rat as soon as he saw it and when a rabbit was placed next to him, he cried
  • 7 weeks later: Albert cried in response to white furry objects e.g. a fur coat and Father Christmas's beard
  • he associated the objects with the rat- generalisation
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  • Albert was successfully conditioned to be afraid of the rat and other white furry objects
  • Alberts strong fear for the rabbit became weaker eventually suggesting extinction played a part as the UCS was not repeated.
  • Demonstrates that it is possible to artifically induce emotional responses by C.C and that we are able to generalise from this response
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  • study supports C.C as he was conditioned to be afraid and generalised from this
  • W and R intended to decondition him but his mother withdrew him- shows that they would have debriefed him if they had been allowed to making the study more ethical.
  • Study was carried out before ethical guidlines so W and R would not have known that they were breaking any.
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  • Albert was too young to give informed consent and therefore had no right to withdraw. Less ethical
  • Study had a psychological effect on him which caused stress which is immoral. Less ethical
  • Lab experiment- less E.V as lab does not resemble real life
  • Albert only participant so less generaliseability and ability to apply the study to the whole population
  • W and R had no idea if there would be any long term problems. Less ethical
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