Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Little Albert

  • Polyxeni Georgiadou
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1046-1

Synonyms

Definition

John Watson’s experiment on children’s conditioned emotional reactions

Introduction

In 1919, upon Watson’s return from the army, he decided to pursue research, along with Rosalie Rayner, on children’s emotional response and development based on conditioning processes. The first and only study that Watson and Rayner performed on this topic was the study with Albert B. or, most known, as Little Albert, at the laboratory of a hospital. This experiment became one of the most frequently cited in psychology books and magazines and is described as “one of the classic studies of twentieth-century psychology” (Todd 1994, p. 82).

The Conditions Surrounding the Experiment

Watson’s academic career was built on examining animal learning. He was applying Pavlov’s principles of classical conditioning, where innate bodily reflexes are conditioned with new stimuli to create new learning by association. Thus, conditioning...

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References

  1. Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009). Finding Little Albert. A journey to John B. Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psychologist, 64(7), 605–614.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Digdona, N., Powell, R. A., & Smithson, C. (2014). Watson’s alleged Little Albert scandal: Historical breakthrough or new Watson myth? Revista de Historia de la Psicologia, 35(1), 47–60.Google Scholar
  3. Hergenhahn, B. R. (2000). Introduction to the history of psychology. Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  4. Moore, J. (2017). John B. Watson’s classical S-R Behaviorism. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 38(1), 1–34.Google Scholar
  5. Rilling, M. (2000). How the challenge of explaining learning influenced the origins and development of John B. Watson’s behaviorism. American Journal of Psychology, 113(2), 275–301.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Todd, J. T. (1994). What psychology has to say about John B. Watson: Classical behaviorism in psychology textbooks, 1920–1989. In J. T. Todd & E. K. Morris (Eds.), Modern perspectives on John B. Watson and classical behaviorism, Contributions in psychology (Vol. 24, pp. 75–107). Westport: Greenwood Press/Greenwood Publishing Group.Google Scholar
  7. Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (2000). Conditioned emotional reactions. American Psychologist, 55(3), 313–317, a reprint of Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. R. (1920). Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus

Section editors and affiliations

  • Menelaos Apostolou
    • 1
  1. 1.University of NicosiaNicosiaCyprus