The Little Albert Experiment

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Several research projects over the years have been deemed unethical based on how researchers conducted the study. One of the main reasons why they are identified unethical is due to a lack of Code of Conduct in place. Due to the lack of rules in place researchers did not have to abide by any standards or maintain confidentiality. One of the most famous unethical cases of classical conditioning is called the Little Albert study. In 1919 at John Hopkins University, John Watson and his graduate student Rosaline Raynor wanted to investigate how children become fearful and wanted to perform tests to understand that psychological condition. According to Powell, Digdon, Harris, and Smithson (2014), for the purpose of this study they used a fictitious…show more content…
The purpose of their study was to condition a child to fear a distinctive stimulus that typically would not be naturally feared by an emotionally stable child. During the experiment, according to Field and Nightingale (2009), they exposed a nine-month-old infant to a series of white items such as a white rat, rabbit, a mask with and without hair, burning newspaper, and other miscellaneous items without any conditioning. At this time Albert, while sitting on a mattress in the middle of a room, showed no fear as he reached out to play with some of the items or animals. Watson then decided to administer a loud clanking noise behind Albert in order to distress him. The next step was to pair the loud noise with the exposure to the white furry animal(s) or object. When the conditioning started prior to the presentation of sound Albert would try to reach out to the white objects. After a few presentations Albert quickly grasped the idea that he was to fear any white furry object when they were presented to him without the sound being administered. Albert’s fear of the objects would cause him to become upset and cry immediately. This notion showed that a neutral stimulus could elicit a conditioned response when under distress causing lasting…show more content…
The first thing, that this experiment failed to do, was contain formal consent from this child’s parents. They did not inform Albert’s mother of any of the activities that took place during the study and conditioning. Informed consent was not provided to Albert’s mother, all of the information should have been provided prior to the start of the study so that any participation is based on knowledge. His mother was never given the opportunity to remove Albert from the study, which is
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