Ethical Issues on Little Albert

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Watson and Rayner decided to experiment the conditioned emotional responses of an eleven months old baby. They experimented on this issue by implanting fear in little Albert. Since he was an orphan, nobody was there to stand up for him, so the psychologists did what they pleased with him. To starts with, they made the baby fear a white rat. However, what they didn’t know is that Albert would later generalize his fear towards white and fluffy things such as a Santa Claus mask. Watson had no problem by doing this experiment because there were no ethical rules or guidelines in 1920. Nonetheless, if they were to realise this experiment nowadays, not only would they be criticised by their unmoral behaviour, but they would also lose their right to perform any types of experiments, for this experiment breaks many ethical rules. To start with, no parental consent was made and no one knew what they were doing to the poor little baby. Also, Albert didn’t have any chance of withdrawal. He was just left at the mercy of psychologists that believed that science was above human emotions. These scientist not only disturbed the baby physically by scaring him and making him cry, which by itself it is an awful thing, but they also disturbed Albert mentally by implanting a fear that wasn’t supposed to be there. That fear might have affected him for the rest of his life and it might have impaired him to work in society. Some people might think that the process of Pavlov’s extinction might have taken place over time, due to the fact that Albert was very young. However, no one knows that because, luckily, Albert was adopted. The bottom line is: to not create any kind of distress –physically, mentally or emotionally - in anybody, especially in an infant who has no one looking after him and no way to withdraw from the experiment. No one should be allowed to play with the young mind of an

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