Little Emotional Albert Rachel Walterman, Jamie Clay, Jess Schweer, Candace Cornick Little Emotional Albert • John B. Watson, Rosalie Raynor • 1920 • Freud’s psychoanalysis dominated psychology • Watson sought to disprove that biological processes were the only explanation for emotions Little Emotional Albert • Albert was an orphan and an only child • Raised from birth in hospital environment • Emotionally and physically healthy • Happy baby Little Emotional Albert • Watson’s theory: Emotional responses exist because humans have been conditioned to respond to stimuli in the environment • We learn our emotions Little Emotional Albert • Watson’s goals: – Can we condition fear of an animal by striking a steel bar simultaneously? – Can the conditioned emotion be transferred to other objects? – What is the effect of time on conditioned responses? – How can the conditioned response be removed (extinction)? Little Emotional Albert • Method – Albert was presented with stimuli to observe his reactions to them: • White rat, rabbit, dog, monkey, mask with and without hair, and white cotton wool • Albert did not show any fear to any of the situations he was presented with Little Emotional Albert • Tested reaction to loud noises by hammering a steel bar • The noise startled him and he cried • This is an unconditioned stimulus because the fear does not have to be learned Little Emotional Albert • Conditioning began at age 11 months • Albert was presented with the white rat and a loud noise simultaneously • At first, Albert was interested in the rat and wanted to touch it, but as soon as he reached for it a metal bar was struck, causing him to be frightened Little Emotional Albert • Process was repeated 3 times • One week later, the same procedure was followed • After 7 times, the rat was presented to Albert and he reacted with fear • He cried, turned over and crawled away Little Emotional Albert • Watson was curious if the behavior would transfer to other objects – generalization • The next week Albert was tested again and found to still be afraid of the rat • Then, an object similar to the rat (a white rabbit) was presented to him • Albert instantly showed signs of fear – crying and crawling away Little Emotional Albert • Albert was not afraid of the rabbit prior to the study • He had generalized a stimulus • He was then presented with a package of cotton, a fur coat, and a Santa Claus mask and reacted fearfully to each one Little Emotional Albert • To increase the significance of the findings, Albert was tested in a different environment • Albert was brought to a different hospital room with brighter light and more people present • His reactions to the stimuli are presented in the following table: Little Emotional Albert Stimulus Presented Reaction Observed 1. Blocks Played as usual 2. Rat Fearful withdrawal (no crying) 3. Rat + Noise Fear and crying 4. Rat Fear and crying 5. Rat Fear, crying, crawling away 6. Rabbit Fear, but less strong reaction 7. Blocks Played as 8. Rabbit Same as 6 9. Rabbit Same as 6 10. Rabbit Some fear, but also wanted to touch rabbit 11. Dog Fearful Avoidance 12. Dog + Noise Fear and crawling away 13. Blocks Normal play Little Emotional Albert • Final Test: – To study if Albert’s learned emotional responses would persist over time – However, Albert was adopted and the tests were discontinued for 31 days – He was brought back and tested with the same stimuli and continued to be fearful – Researchers planned to recondition Albert of his fears, but he left the hospital on the day the tests were scheduled – No reconditioning took place Little Emotional Albert • Significant Findings: – Watson’s theory can explain human emotions in simple terms – Freud criticized as too complex to accurately explain behavior – Emotional disturbances can not always be contributed to childhood trauma – Phobias and sexual fetishes could be developed from similar conditioning Little Emotional Albert • Discussion Questions: 1. Even though Watson’s experiment was done in 1920, would you consider it ethical at that time? 2. Do you think that such fears would have occurred naturally had Albert not been in the experiment? 3. Do you think that the number of times Albert was conditioned affected his responses? Little Emotional Albert 4. Do you think that the fact that Albert was raised in a hospital played a role in his reactions? 5. Do you think that a fear learned during infancy could transfer to adulthood? 6. Could this study be generalized among all children or was he just a spaz? 7. How could the experiments’ effects be reversed? Little Albie Where’s Albert ????