CASE STUDY ON CLASSICAL CONDITIONING
Case Study: The Little Albert Experiment
The Little Albert experiment showed that emotional reactions such as fear can be taught through classical conditioning.
•Eleven-month-old Albert was conditioned to fear a white rat rather than be amused by it.
• Psychologists achieved this by pairing the rat with something that Albert would find instinctively frightening.
• After they paired the rat with loud noises, Albert showed a fear of the rat even when there was no noise.
• Albert’s fear spread to similar objects.
• By today’s standards, the experiment was unethical.
What do you think?
• How did Watson and Rayner condition Little Albert to fear white rats?
• Do you think you have learned to fear or enjoy certain things because of conditioning or association?Explain?
Question: How did Watson and Rayner condition Little Albert to fear white rats?
Answer: Watson and Rayner decided to take advantage of his natural fear response (UR) to loud noises; to see if Watson and Rayner could train him to fear the previously neutral white rat laboratory (US). Watson and Rayner slammed a large steel pipe over and behind Little Albert's head with a hammer. When Albert saw the rat, he started crying and trying to crawl away, despite the fact that the rat and the loud noise were unrelated at the time (CR).
Question: Do you think you have learned to fear or enjoy certain things because of conditioning or association?Explain?
Answer: I have learned to fear or enjoy certain things because of conditioning. Understanding how phobias develop can be aided by the traditional conditioning process. We learn to associate non-frightening stimuli such as other people biting us with frightening stimuli such as being bitten by a dog. The dog now a conditioned stimulus elicits a fear response as a result of the association, resulting in phobia.