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.
Read the article and answer the following questions:
- In the study, what are unconditioned stimulus (US), conditioned stimulus (CS), and conditioned response (CR)?
- Explain the concept of generalization in regards to Watson and Rayner’s ability to condition Albert to react to different stimuli such as masks, other animals, and a fur coat?
- Using examples from the study, explain the concept of extinction.
Make sure you cite the article (see above for reference) you read as well as the textbook (used to explain classical conditioning).
Abstract from the article
If the theory advanced by Watson and Morgan (in ‘Emotional Reactions and Psychological Experimentation,’ American Journal of Psychology, April, 1917, Vol. 28, pp. 163-174) to the effect that in infancy the original emotional reaction patterns are few, consisting so far as observed of fear, rage and love, then there must be some simple method by means of which the range of stimuli which can call out these emotions and their compounds is greatly increased. Otherwise, complexity in adult response could not be accounted for. These authors without adequate experimental evidence advanced the view that this range was increased by means of conditioned reflex factors. It was suggested there that the early home life of the child furnishes a laboratory situation for establishing conditioned emotional responses. The present authors present their experimental findings of conditioned fear responses in a male infant beginning at 11 months of age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2016 APA, all rights reserved)