There have been several classic experiments to study and describe classical conditioning; one of the more famous is the Little Albert experiment. Over the years, the experiment has lost some of its validity due to numerous interpretations by several introductory psychology textbooks. It is, therefore, beneficial to go back to the original (or primary) source and read what the authors of the experiment themselves had to say.
Search line: “conditioned emotional reactions” (in quotation marks). Find the article in the search results by John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner. Watson J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920).Conditioned emotional reactions.Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3(1), 1–14.
Help finding article in Library
Read the article and answer the following questions in your essay:
- Explain the initial pairing of the banging bar and the rat in terms of learning through classical conditioning. What are unconditioned stimulus (US), conditioned stimulus (CS), and conditioned response (CR)?
- How were Watson and Rayner able to condition Albert to react to different stimuli such as masks, other animals, and a fur coat? Explain the concept of generalization.
- Why didn’t the conditioning last over time? Explain the concept of extinction.
- Considering the current standards, can the same experiment be conducted (or replicated) by researchers today? Explain some of the ethical issues related to the experiment.
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