Baby Albert Experiment

The Baby Albert Experiment was one of Watson's best known and controversial experiements. It all started when Watson was observing children in a field. He wondered whether or not loud noises were prompted by fear and with this hypothesis Watson believed that "he could condition a child to fear another distinctive stimulus which normally would not be feared by a child" (Wikipedia, 2007). This lead Watson to chose Baby Albert from a nearby hospital at the age of nine months old. Before any experiments could begin, Watson ran baseline tests that revealed Baby Alberts emotional response to certain stimuli. No fear was shown to any of the stimuli from the baseline tests. Two months later Watson placed Baby Albert on a mattress with a rat lab rat. Baby Albert was able to play with the rat, and through this showed no fear of the rat. After Baby Albert became accustomed to the rat, Watson hit a hammer on a steel bar right behind Albert's head. This caused Baby Albert to cry and to become scared. Watson continued this process until eventually Baby Albert associated the rat with the fearful noise. Soon enough, all Baby Albert had to see was the rat and he would become scared and would start crying and trying to get away from the rat.

After the experiment, Watson came up with the reason to why Baby Albert reacted the way he did. He stated it this way:
Loud sound (Unconditioned Stimulus) -> Fear (Unconditioned Response) Natural response.
Rat (Neutral Stimulus) + Loud sound (Unconditioned Stimulus)-> Fear (Unconditioned Response) During pairing them.
Rat (Conditioned Stimulus) -> Fear (Conditioned Response) Learning occurs. Notice how the response never changes.
(Wikipedia, 2007).
Through Watson's Baby Albert experiment, classical conditioning is evident and is supported in humans and in children.

References

1.Little Albert Experiment (2008, November). Retrieved November 5, 2008, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Albert#Critique

Breanne Kooi
Mr. Robillard
AP Psychology
2 January 2009