Members in the Media
From: Science News

The Science of Us

No one could accuse the boy’s self-appointed trainers of lacking ambition or being sticklers for ethical research.

Psychologist John Watson of Johns Hopkins University and his graduate student Rosalie Rayner first observed that a 9-month-old boy, identified as Albert B., sat placidly when the researchers placed a white rat in front of him. In tests two months later, one of the researchers presented the rodent, and just as the child brought his hand to pet it, the other scientist stood behind Albert and clang a metal rod with a hammer. Their goal: to see if a human child could be conditioned to associate an emotionally neutral white rat with a scary noise, just as Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov had trained dogs to associate the meaningless clicks of a metronome with the joy of being fed.

Pavlov’s dogs slobbered at the mere sound of a metronome. Likewise, Little Albert eventually cried and recoiled at the mere sight of a white rat. The boy’s conditioned fear wasn’t confined to rodents. He got upset when presented with other furry things — a rabbit, a dog, a fur coat and a Santa Claus mask with a fuzzy beard.

Read the whole story: Science News

More of our Members in the Media >


APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.