‘Little Albert’ Article Summary

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The true identity of the test subject known as “Little Albert” at the centre of the 1920’s Study of Conditioned Fear conducted by Watson and Rayner has been deliberated due to discernible similarities between two infants. Digdon, Powell, and Harris (2014) compare the similarities and discrepancies in relation to the two infants, Albert Barger and Douglas Merrite. Both were approximately the same age with mothers undertaking the same occupation but had differing weights/body appearance and apparent differences in the overall health and neurological. The purpose of Watson and Rayner’s study was to condition an infant to fear and then remove the ingrained fear however, ‘Little Albert’ was released from hospital before the study could be concluded (Digdon, Powell, and Harris 2014). The Author also discusses the possible ethical violations in relation to the study conducted in the 1920’s compared to the ethical standards that would be accepted in today’s time. In another comparison relating to Watson and Rayner’s study, Beck, Levinson, and Irons (2009) converse that Watson burned all of his papers later in life which could have potentially contained the real identity of the infant but came to the conclusion that all of the evidence available strongly supports the hypothesis that Douglas Merrite is in fact Little Albert. References Digdon, N., Powell, R.A., & Harris, B. (2014). Little Albert's alleged neurological impairment: Watson, Rayner, and historical revision. History of Psychology, 17(4), 312-324. Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009). Finding little Albert: A journey to John B. Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psychologist, 64(7), 605-614.

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