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Analysis of Conditioned Emotional Reactions - Article Review Example

3 pages
637 words
Vanderbilt University
Type of paper: 
Article review
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

Rosalie Rayner and John B. Watson are two psychologists who for a long time have been trying to revolutionize Psychology (Gray, 2015). In this experiment, Rayner and Watson's interests are in emotional response conditioning. Their ideas were similar to Pavlov's earlier previous discovery about the classical conditioning. Rayner and Watson believed that behaviors and the emotional response came from outside and are initiated by situational and environmental stimuli (Gray, 2015). However, contrary to this think, Freud argues that emotions and behaviors come from inside because of instinctual and biological processes. The two Psychologists Rayner and Watson knew that to prove their point on the conditional emotional response theory they had to perform an experiment that involved a subject with no idea of fear (Gale, 2015). Rayner and Watson decided to use the infant who was then nine months old and they felt that he was stable and unemotional.


Just like any other experiment, all the requirements were put in place. These included the infant Albert, a monkey, a rabbit, cotton wool, a dog, an experiment room and loud noise. When all these were set, the experiment kicked off with the introduction of stimuli to Albert and recording his reactions. The next process that followed was to check whether he could develop a fear of this animal by the production of scary and loud noise. Two months later, Albert was provided with both the loud noise and the rat with subsequent repeats of the same. A retest was done a week later to find out whether the experiment was bearing fruits.


Rayner and Watson noted that fear could be conditioned. They arrived at this conclusion when they subjected Albert to an animal that he had shown no fears to at the beginning of the experiment, but no feared it. This fear was not only limited to rats but also other things. With repeats at different settings and different durations, Albert still was afraid of these things. The experiment, therefore, proved emotional behavior condition is possible in any given environment.


One of the mistakes that the psychologists made is not putting into consideration the childs emotional state and the outcomes in the end. In todays era, inducing fear in a child is unethical. Moreover, the negative impacts of the experiments were not removed in the child, a situation that can lead to future psychological disturbance (Koocher & Keith, 2008). Furthermore, the wishes of the child were not respected since he was treated just like an object because of his stable emotional state. The psychologists violated several ethical principles that include the principle of respecting people's dignities and rights. Albert did not give his consent on whether to participate in the experiment or not since, he was just an infant. The psychologist also violated the principle of not harming the client. The client had no right to refuse to take part in the experiment and there was no form of regulation and control in the research. The environment was not safe, and this could have predisposed the child to injuries


This study was accepted because it was done when there were no guidelines and rules that the psychologists were to follow. It was during this time that the public and the psychologist had no idea the long-term effects and trauma caused by such experiments. Today, such as experiments are unacceptable and unethical and should not be done since they fail to adhere to principles of ethics.



Gale, C. L. (2015). A Study Guide for Psychologists and Their Theories for Students: IVAN PAVLOV. Gale, Cengage Learning.

Gray, C., & MacBlain, S. (2015). Learning theories in childhood Moore, J. (2017). John B. Watson's Classical SR Behaviorism. The Journal of Mind and Behavior, 38(1), 1.

Koocher, G. P., & Keith-Spiegel, P. (2008). Ethics in psychology and the mental health professions: Standards and cases. Oxford University Press.


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