To determine whether fear is congenital or conditioned reflexes, in 1920 the little Albert experiment was born, and this is considered one of the most terrible experiments in the history of mankind.
Historically, people have done many famous experiments, among which can not help but mention the extremely horrifying experiment called “Little Albert”.
In 1920, John Watson, a psychologist obsessed with Ivan Pavlov’s study of conditional reflexes, was also the father of behavioral theory, and always advocated the use of orphans. into his studies.
He wanted to test whether fear was congenital or conditioned so he chose a 9-month-old child named Albert, the son of a hospital nurse.
After contacting Albert’s mother, Watson talked to her about the experiment and that her child would have a reward every day, but specifically, how the experiment took place he absolutely did not explain.
Nine-month-old Albert, also known as “Little Albert”, participated in the experiment. At first, Watson often gave small animals like puppies, rabbits or white mice as gifts for the boy. Albert initially liked them and showed no signs of fear. After a basic emotional test, Watson concluded that Albert was not afraid of small animals.
Two months later, Watson officially embarked on his “gruesome” experiment. Watson handed a white mouse to Albert. Whenever the boy touches the mouse, Watson will make a loud sound behind him by knocking a hammer against a steel rod hanging high above him, which both frightens him and the mouse.
At this time, Albert began to cry and was afraid of the loud sound. This situation was repeated many times later, while Albert began to show fear of the mouse and crawl, crying in fear whenever the mouse appears.
Later, Watson discovered that Albert was not only afraid of guinea pigs but that his fear also began to generalize, even for puppies, white, fluffy fur coats, etc. Everything with fur made him scared.
Through this experiment, Watson proved that fear emotions can be learned through conditioned reflexes. But before Watson could continue the experiment, someone took Albert away.
What makes many people resent is the fact that scientists have caused children to suffer psychological and physical injuries when their ears are still too fragile.
The “Little Albert” experiment subsequently sparked widespread criticism in the academic world, mainly on the ethics of the experiment.
Since this experiment, the American Psychological Association has developed an empirical rule that prohibits people from conducting unethical experiments to ensure ethical issues for scientific experiments.