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Conditioned emotional reactions

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Presentation on theme: "Conditioned emotional reactions"— Presentation transcript:

1 Conditioned emotional reactions
Watson & Rayner, 1920

2 Over all Aim To demonstrate that the principles of classical conditioning can be used to explain how humans acquire phobic behaviours and to show that a fear response can be created within a young child to a stimulus which does not naturally produce this response.

3 aims To investigate whether it is possible to condition a fear of an animal in a baby To see whether that fear would be transferred to other animals and objects ?

4 Aims ? To investigate the effect of time on such conditioned emotional responses If the responses do not extinguish themselves, then to investigate what laboratory methods can be devised for their removal

5 Participant Little Albert aged 9 months - 1 year 21 days
Mother a wet nurse at the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children This was where Albert had been raised Albert ‘normal’ Stolid and unemotional Stolid = not easily stirred or moved mentally; unemotional; impassive

6 “The infant practically never cried.”
“No one had ever seen him in a state of fear or rage.” “The infant practically never cried.” Direct quotes from the original paper – giving reasons for why he would make a good test subject

7 “We felt we could do him relatively little harm by carrying out experiments such as those outlined below...”

8 Procedure Method Single case study conducted under laboratory conditions Using observational techniques to record data They recorded his physical reactions such as lips trembling, crying, starting violently, crawling away

9 Procedure Although only carried out on one participant (a healthy, 9 month old male infant called ‘Albert B’ or little Albert) this is an example of a laboratory experiment. The procedure involved 3 phases: pre conditioning testing, conditioning trials and a post conditioning test.

10 Procedure Approx 9 months Little Albert was shown a series of stimuli
White rat Rabbit Dog Monkey Masks Cotton wool Burning newspapers At NO time did Little Albert show any fear Neutral stimuli

11 Procedure 8 months & 26 days A steel bar was struck with a sharp blow
Unconditioned stimulus 8 months & 26 days A steel bar was struck with a sharp blow behind Albert’s head Albert showed ‘startled reaction’ The steel bar was struck again Albert again showed a ‘startled reaction & his lips puckered and trembled The steel bar was struck for the third time Albert started crying A hammer was struck upon a suspended steel bar four feet in length whilst Albert’s attention was fixated on Rosalie Raynor’s moving hand Albert’s startled reaction consisted of him starting violently, his breathing checked and arms raised They also tried jerking and dropping the blanket that Albert was lying on but it failed to produce a fear response!!!! Unconditioned response

12 Procedure Establishment of conditioned emotional responses
11 months and three days A white rat was taken from a basket and presented to Albert Just as he reached for the rat the steel bar was struck behind his head Little Albert showed a fear reaction by jumping violently and falling forward The procedure was then repeated and Albert jumped again and began to whimper so not to disturb him ‘too seriously’ they gave no further test for one week

13 Procedure 11 months 10 days 1. The rat was presented without the steel bar and Albert was hesitant to touch the animal This shows the procedure that was performed the previous week had had some effect... Then the experimental procedure began again... 2. The rat and steel bar were presented together Little Albert ‘started’ and fell over

14 Procedure 3. Joint stimulation again. Albert fell over again and turn away from the rat 4. Joint stimulation – same reaction 5. Rat presented alone – Albert whimpers and withdraws his body 6. Joint stimulation. Albert fell over again and started to whimper 7. Joint stimulation. Albert started violently and cried!

15 Procedure Conditioned emotional response Conditioned stimulus 8. Rat presented alone – Albert cries and crawls away so quickly that he almost falls off the table

16 It takes seven joint stimulation trials in all to make Little Albert cry and establish the fear response!

17 Procedure testing aim 2 – Will Albert's fear response generalise to other objects?
11 months 15 days 1. Albert is shown the rat again and shows a fear response 2. Albert is then shown a rabbit. He show a fear response by whimpering then bursting into tears and buried his head in the mattress then crawled off crying

18 procedure Little Albert shows a similar fear response to: Fur coat
Cotton wool Santa mask A dog Just in ‘play’ Watson put his head down to see if Albert would play with his hair. Albert was completely negative!!! When two other observers did the same thing Albert immediately began to play with their hair (says a lot)

19 Procedure testing aim 3 – the effect of time on conditioned emotional responses
No further conditioning experimentation was conducted on Little Albert for 31 days One Year 21 days Little Albert was presented with The Santa mask The Fur Coat The Rat The Dog He showed a fear response to all of them As Little Albert’s mum was leaving the hospital in a month to go to new employment, Watson was faced with a choice – try to extinguish the phobia using psychological techniques or see if it persisted...he chose the second

20 “These experiments seem to show conclusively that directly conditioned emotional responses as well as those conditioned by transfer, persist”

21 “Our view is that these responses in the home environment are likely to persist indefinitely”

22 After the study…….. What happened to Little Albert?
Watson wanted to desensitize him to see if a conditioned stimulus could be removed, but knew from the beginning of the study that there would not be time. Albert left the hospital on the day these last tests were made, and no desensitizing ever took place, hence the opportunity of developing an experimental technique for removing the Conditioned Emotional Response was then discontinued. "Albert B." was a pseudonym for Douglas Merritte. The boy died on May 10, 1925 of hydrocephalus.

23 Evaluation Validity This research lacks ecological validity, so the findings cannot be generalised to other settings outside the laboratory situation as the method used created an unnatural situation which may not reflect learning in everyday life. However, this artificiality did increase the experimental validity of the study due to the strict controls, e.g. Albert had no prior learning due to his age that could have influenced the fear response to rats.

24 Evaluation Reliability
The study is high in reliability as the use of standardised procedures allows for high control over all extraneous variables, this means that it is possible to replicate the study and check that the results are consistent.

25 Evaluation Generalisability
However, as this was a study of one young child the findings cannot be generalised to others. Albert had been reared in a hospital environment from birth and he was unusual as he had never been seen to show fear or rage by staff. Therefore Little Albert may have responded differently in this experiment to how other young children may have, these findings will therefore be unique to him.

26 Evaluation Application to everyday life
This research has demonstrated that phobias can be learnt through the process of classical conditioning. Therefore, if we can understand how phobias do develop we can incorporate this into treatment of this form of behaviour through the use of systematic desensitisation.

27 Evaluation Ethical issues
There are ethical concerns with this study as Albert was conditioned to fear numerous white furry stimuli. His mother removed him from the experiment before the researchers were able to remove this fear. This goes against the present day guideline of protection which govern psychological research. However, you could argue that the benefits to others through the development of therapy outweigh the costs to Albert.

28 Extra – credibility issue
A recent (2012) research paper suggests that Merritte had hydrocephalus from birth. The article also included assessments of the boy in the "Albert B." film by a clinical psychologist and a pediatric neurologist indicating that his responses were indicative of a neurologically compromised child. If true, this would undermine Watson & Rayner's claim that "Albert B." was a "normal" and "healthy" baby and possibly call into question the credibility of a highly influential study.

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