Can researchers cause and cure phobias?
Watson and Rayner planned to remove Albert's phobia of rats using classical conditioning but he was taken away before they could. Before reading on, think about how they could have done it.
Jones' study (1924)
To investigate whether a phobia in a little boy could be deconditioned and whether this would generalise to other objects.
Peter was 2 years, 10 months when Jones began observing him. She watched Peter playing with beads in his cot as an experimenter showed him a white rat. Peter screamed. He was moved away, leaving his beads behind. When the rat touched Peter's beads he protested but didn't when another child touched them.
The next day Peter's reactions to different objects were observed (see below). His fear of the rat generalised to other subjects.
Object(s) Peter's reaction
playroom and cot chose toys, got into cot
white ball, rolled in picked it up and held it
fur coat over cot cried until it was removed
cotton balls whimpered, cried, withdrew
hat with feathers cried
blue woolly jumper looked, turned away, no fear
white cloth rabbit no fear
wooden doll no fear
Peter was also shown a rabbit and he was more afraid of this than the rat, so a rabbit was used for deconditioning.
Peter had daily play sessions with three other children and…