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The Evidence Supports Douglas Merritte as Little Albert

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Abstract

Replies to the comments made by R. A. Powell (see record 2010-08987-015) and H.W. Reese (see record 2010-08987-016) on the authors' original article (see record 2009-18110-004). The authors' recent article summarized the results of a seven-year search to determine the identity and fate of “Little Albert.” Examinations of Watson’s scientific production, correspondence, and public documents suggested that an employee at the Harriet Lane Hospital was Albert’s mother. The child’s birth records and contact with the woman’s descendents led us to Douglas Merritte, the individual we believe to be Watson and Rayner’s (1920) famous participant. Powell (2010, this issue) and Reese (2010, this issue) brought forth considerations that they believe are contrary to our conclusion. We thank these authors for their interest in our work and the American Psychologist for allowing us to elaborate on and provide additional support for the thesis that Douglas was Little Albert. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
the longest of the six 1920 issues; it was
about 11% (9 pp.) longer than the mean of 79
pages per issue, suggesting that publication
would not have been delayed for want of
manuscripts.
(e) A final consideration is that no one
has cited any 1920 comment that publica-
tion of the February issue was delayed. The
absence of contemporaneous comments
implies that at worst, the actual publication
was not remarkably delayed.
REFERENCES
Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009).
Finding Little Albert: A journey to John B.
Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psychol-
ogist, 64, 605–614. doi:10.1037/a0017234
Beck, L. F. (1937). Watson, J. B. Experimental
investigation of babies. Psychological Ab-
stracts, 11, 684. (Abstract No. 6061)
Beck, L. F. (1938). A review of sixteen-milli-
meter films in psychology and allied sciences.
Psychological Bulletin, 35, 127–169. doi:
10.1037/h0054375
C. H. Stoelting Co. (1937). Psychological and
physiological apparatus and supplies: Supple-
ment. Chicago, IL: Author.
Cohen, D. (1979). J. B. Watson: The founder of
behaviorism. A biography. London, England:
Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Griffith, C. R. (1920a). The decrease of after-
nystagmus during repeated rotation. The La-
ryngoscope, 30, 129–137.
Griffith, C. R. (1920b). The organic effects of
repeated bodily rotation. Journal of Experi-
mental Psychology, 3, 15–47. doi:10.1037/
h0069767
Watson, J. B. (1930). Behaviorism (rev. ed.).
New York, NY: Norton.
Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned
emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental
Psychology, 3, 1–14. doi:10.1037/h0069608
Correspondence concerning this article should
be addressed to Hayne W. Reese, who is now at
4516 French Lake Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76133-
6908. E-mail: haynereese@aol.com
DOI: 10.1037/a0019444
The Evidence Supports
Douglas Merritte as Little
Albert
Hall P. Beck
Appalachian State University
Sharman Levinson
The American University of Paris
Gary Irons
Finksburg, MD
Our recent American Psychologist article
(Beck, Levinson, & Irons, October 2009)
summarized the results of a seven-year
search to determine the identity and fate of
“Little Albert.” Examinations of Watson’s
scientific production, correspondence, and
public documents suggested that an em-
ployee at the Harriet Lane Hospital was
Albert’s mother. The child’s birth records
and contact with the woman’s descendents
led us to Douglas Merritte, the individual
we believe to be Watson and Rayner’s
(1920) famous participant. Powell (2010,
this issue) and Reese (2010, this issue)
brought forth considerations that they be-
lieve are contrary to our conclusion. We
thank these authors for their interest in our
work and the American Psychologist for
allowing us to elaborate on and provide
additional support for the thesis that Doug-
las was Little Albert.
Albert’s First Year
Powell (2010) contended that Douglas
could not be Albert because “the real Al-
bert was not born in the hospital but was
brought to the hospital” (p. 299). Watson
and Rayner (1920) are quoted to support
this position:
This infant was reared almost from birth in a
hospital environment; his mother was a wet
nurse in the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Chil-
dren. Albert’s life was normal: he was healthy
from birth and one of the best developed young-
sters ever brought to the hospital, weighing
twenty-one pounds at nine months of age. (p. 1)
This well-known passage is consistent
with what we know of Douglas’s first year.
The hospital that Albert was brought to was
the Harriet Lane Home. This was the same
hospital that Douglas was brought to after
his mother began working there. Perhaps,
the confusion arises over Douglas’s birth-
place. Douglas was born at Hopkins on
March 9, 1919; he and his mother, Arvilla,
were discharged from that facility on
March 21 (Beck et al., 2009).
We do not know the building where
Douglas spent his first 12 days, but it was
not Harriet Lane. Harriet Lane was a pedi-
atric unit at Hopkins; babies were not de-
livered there. Douglas was born on another
part of campus; he later moved to Harriet
Lane.
In addition to pointing out that the
Watson and Rayner (1920) quotation is
consistent with information from Dou-
glas’s first year, we think it is important to
note that Powell’s (2010) comment was
based on a single source. Reliance on a
single source can be problematic given the
many ambiguities, inconsistencies, and
contradictions in Watson’s accounts of Al-
bert’s conditioning. “One major source of
confusion about the Albert story is Watson
himself, who altered and deleted important
aspects of the study in his major descrip-
tions of it” (Harris, 1979, p. 154).
To illustrate how dependence on a sin-
gle source can lead to misinterpretation of
even seemingly straightforward statements,
we briefly examine Watson’s description of
Albert in Behaviorism, a book that both
Powell (2010) and Reese (2010) relied
upon to support some of their comments.
Watson (1924/1925) stated that Albert
weighed “twenty-one pounds at eleven
months of age. Albert was the son of one of
the wet nurses in the Harriet Lane Hospital.
He had lived his whole life in the hospital”
(p. 125). This quote corroborates that Al-
bert’s mother was a wet nurse and that the
hospital he was referring to was Harriet
Lane. However, in a typical inconsistency,
Watson failed to confirm Albert’s weight.
In 1920, Albert reportedly weighed 21 lbs
at nine months (Watson & Rayner, 1920).
In 1924 (Watson, 1924/1925), Albert sup-
posedly weighed 21 lbs at 11 months of
age. More important, the Behaviorism
quote rewrites Albert’s early history. No
longer does Albert live “almost from birth”
(Watson & Rayner, 1920, p. 1) in a hospital
environment, which is Powell’s (2010)
point, he now lives his “whole life in the
hospital” (Watson, 1924/1925, p. 125). If a
researcher were to rely exclusively on
Watson’s later quote as Powell did with
Watson and Rayner, then he or she might
erroneously conclude that Douglas could
not be Albert because Douglas was brought
to the hospital and Albert lived his entire
first year there.
As the passage from Behaviorism
shows, it is best to be wary of accepting the
veracity of a single Watson statement or
reading too much into a single Watson
phrase. Seeking corroboration across mul-
tiple documents is important in dealing
with most historical materials, but it is es-
sential when studying an author as incon-
sistent as Watson.
The Adoption Myth
Powell (2010) and Reese (2010) based the
case for Albert’s adoption on a single word
from Watson (1924/1925). In Behaviorism,
Watson (1924/1925) stated that Albert was
“adopted by an out-of-town family” (p.
132). The comments regarding Albert’s
purported adoption highlight the necessity
for corroborative and converging evidence,
without which the accuracy of a single
phrase becomes questionable and its mean-
ing ambiguous. Our reply assumes that
Powell and Reese meant a legal adoption;
they may, however, have meant adoption in
a more general sense.
301May–June 2010 American Psychologist
© 2010 American Psychological Association 0003-066X/10/$12.00
Vol. 65, No. 4, 297–303
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
Powell (2010) objected to labeling Al-
bert’s supposed adoption as a myth. He
contended that we rejected “the adoption
story on the basis of their discovery that
Douglas left the hospital with his mother
and remained with her until he died at age
6” (pp. 299–300). Actually, we felt that the
adoption story warranted only a brief men-
tion because, although Watson’s quote is
not obscure, the vast majority of authors
have ignored or disregarded as unproven
the notion that Albert was adopted.
With respect to calling the story a
myth, we did so because (a) after 90 years,
no investigator has produced evidence cor-
roborating a legal adoption, (b) there are
ample reasons to be skeptical that a legal
adoption occurred, (c) it is not clear if
Watson was referring to a legal adoption,
and (d) after expending considerable time
and resources, I (H. P. Beck) was unable to
uncover proof of a legal adoption.
Years before I heard of Douglas, I
wondered why an adoption was not men-
tioned until four years after the study was
performed and why Watson’s other de-
scriptions of the Albert investigation omit-
ted this information. Was the word
“adopted” another imprecise use of termi-
nology or one of Watson’s inconsistencies?
I also questioned the likelihood that a
poor child like Albert would be legally
adopted. America in the 1920s was not the
highly legally regulated society it is today.
To adopt means “to take in.” Poor children
sometimes moved into the homes of per-
sons with better resources than their par-
ents without involving the courts. That
happened to Douglas’s older brother Mau-
rice, who was raised by his grandparents. It
is also very similar to what we later dis-
covered happened when the Brashears took
Arvilla and Douglas in to become part of
their family (Beck et al., 2009).
If we consider the possibility of a non-
legal adoption, nothing in Watson’s state-
ment indicates that the Brashears were not
the “out-of-town” family he was referring
to. We cannot adequately assess that pos-
sibility because, if he knew, Watson re-
layed no additional information regarding
Albert’s post-Hopkins living arrangements.
That is not surprising, as what mattered to
Watson was that Albert was “out-of-town”
and unavailable for further testing.
Despite my doubts, I did what I be-
lieve a number of others did before me. I
verified that the 1920 adoption records
were open to the public. Then I made many
trips to Baltimore and the Maryland State
Archives in Annapolis without finding
proof of a legal adoption.
The research avenue that was open to
me is open to any Watson scholar. For the
adoption hypothesis to gain credibility,
records must be produced of a boy match-
ing Albert’s known characteristics. Until
convincing documentation is found, the no-
tion that Albert was legally adopted is most
appropriately cataloged along with the
many other unsubstantiated Watsonian
myths.
The Biometric Analyses
Powell (2010) found the biometric analyses
“highly inconclusive” (p. 299). We ac-
knowledged that a confirmatory test, which
would have allowed a positive identifica-
tion of Albert, could not be conducted be-
cause (a) Douglas’s age at the time of the
photograph is unknown and babies’ facial
features rapidly change, and (b) there were
deficiencies in the resolution of Watson’s
(1923) movie.
A disconfirmatory test required less
stringent criteria. That is, the photographic
evidence might be sufficient to determine
that Douglas was not Albert. Given that a
disconfirmatory test was an option, we had
an obligation to perform it. As we reported,
resemblances were found between Albert’s
stills and Douglas’s portrait. The biometric
analyses indicated that Albert and Douglas
could be the same person (Beck et al.,
2009).
To dismiss all photographic evidence
because the testing circumstances were not
ideal would be to ignore results supporting
the thesis that Douglas was Albert. If
Douglas was not Albert, then it is likely
that he would have failed the disconfirma-
tory test. Even a cursory visual inspection
reveals that most infants do not look like
Albert. Presumably, a biometric analysis
would further reduce the number of infants
passing a disconfirmatory test. Given the
acknowledged limitations of the photo-
graphic evidence, the findings could not
have provided more support for the hypoth-
esis that Douglas was Little Albert.
Was Publication of the Watson and
Rayner Article Delayed?
Reese (2010) objected to our conclusion
that the evidence suggests that the February
1920 issue of the Journal of Experimental
Psychology (JEP) was substantially de-
layed. This is an important question be-
cause the Albert study was published in the
February issue, and we estimated that the
last test session occurred in late March or
early April. After deriving these dates, we
searched for evidence that was consistent
with these calculations but also evidence
that was inconsistent with them.
To support his position, Reese (2010)
proposed that JEP did not lack for manu-
scripts and that Watson, as editor, had
“plenty of time to allow publication of the
February 1920 issue on time” (p. 300). We
stated that Watson needed to solicit manu-
scripts, not that a dearth of submissions
was the final hurdle he needed to overcome
before resuming publication. The obstacles
Watson faced in resurrecting the journal
are unknown. We therefore refrained from
making judgments regarding his use of
time.The February issue marked a resump-
tion of service, as publication had been
suspended as Watson and other psycholo-
gists served in World War I. Our efforts to
determine the time of publication included
writing to the current editor of JEP-Gen-
eral, examining the February 1920 issue
for signs of a telltale date, reviewing
Watson’s correspondence, and asking seri-
alists around the United States to check the
receipt stamps on their JEP issues. We (a)
uncovered a letter from Watson to Adolph
Meyer suggesting that publication was de-
layed, (b) found no receipt stamp earlier
than August 23, 1920, and (c) pointed out
that a February publication date would
have Watson making a movie before funds
to purchase film had been authorized (Beck
et al., 2009).
Reese (2010) labeled the receipt study
“inconclusive” (p. 300) because “the date
at Cornell was blurred and could have been
August 23, 1920 or 1921, and the date at
Harvard was for Issues 1 through 5” (p.
300). We assumed that the Cornell stamp
was 1920 rather than 1921, making it the
earliest receipt record. That still allowed
more than enough time for Watson and
Rayner to finish the study in March or early
April. We do not see why a single receipt
date for the Harvard issues is troublesome.
One stamp is exactly what we would ex-
pect if the five issues were mailed together,
a finding that is consistent with a signifi-
cantly late publication.
In sum, although the exact publication
date remains unknown, all available evi-
dence is consistent with the premise that
the February 1920 issue was not released
on time. Furthermore, the evidence we did
uncover suggests that publication was sub-
stantially delayed. Thus, we did not revise
our estimate that the final testing occurred
in late March or early April.
Was There a Second Film?
Reese (2010) also objected to our estimate
that baseline was filmed between Novem-
ber 28 and December 12, 1919. This criti-
cism assumes that Watson began “filming
his work with infants earlier in 1919, with-
out the cited funding, and this filming
could have included the pretest footage”
302 May–June 2010 American Psychologist
© 2010 American Psychological Association 0003-066X/10/$12.00
Vol. 65, No. 4, 297–303
This document is copyrighted by the American Psychological Association or one of its allied publishers.
This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
(Reese, 2010, p. 300). What evidence is
there, then, for a second film?
The archives at Hopkins contain many
budgetary documents from Watson’s ten-
ure as chairperson of the Psychology De-
partment. This correspondence includes
letters between Watson and President
Goodnow culminating in authorization to
purchase film on November 19, 1919. No-
where is a second film mentioned. On No-
vember 13, Watson sent Goodnow still
photographs showing some tests he hoped
to film (Beck et al., 2009). Are we to be-
lieve that Watson had previously filmed
babies but hid this information from Good-
now?Confusion might understandably arise
because of the titling of Watson’s movie.
The title screen of the film is Studies Upon
the Behavior of the Human Infant. In 1923,
the Stoelting Company began to distribute
a 16-mm movie under the title The Exper-
imental Investigation of Babies. Reese
(2010) proposed that The Experimental In-
vestigation of Babies is lost. That is not
correct. Allow us to relate a fascinating
story.
As Reese accurately stated, all copies
of the film were lost sometime after 1937.
Watson scholars owe a great deal to Ben
Harris. In 1979, he contacted the Stoelting
Company (B. Harris, personal communica-
tion, September 24, 2008). Harris was told
that several boxes of movies had been do-
nated to a “film unit” at the University of
Michigan. There, under a stairwell, was
Watson’s film with the title screen Studies
Upon the Behavior of the Human Infant.
According to Harris, “The film was a dupe
negative” from which he “arranged for a
positive print to be made. The negative was
stored off site, and eventually either the
negative or another positive (the latter is
more likely) was donated to Akron.”
The connection between the Stoelting
Company and the film under the stairwell
seals the case. In 1923, Watson or someone
at Stoelting decided to market the film un-
der the title, The Experimental Investiga-
tion of Babies. There is thus evidence of
one, but not two, Watson baby movies.
The Other Half of the Story: Evidence
That Douglas Merritte Was Little
Albert
We believe that, within our allotted space,
we have successfully addressed the major
points that Powell (2010) and Reese (2010)
felt were inconsistent with the proposition
that Douglas was Little Albert. Scrutiny
such as Powell and Reese provided is most
appreciated. Nevertheless, attempts to find
discrepancies with any hypothesis consider
only half the story. Our closest approxima-
tion to the truth is gained, not by restricting
ourselves to counterarguments, but also by
considering the supportive evidence.
To demonstrate that Douglas was not
Albert, it is necessary to attribute the many
characteristics shared by the two boys to
happenstance. No one has contended that
Arvilla and Douglas were not at Hopkins
when Watson and Rayner attempted to
condition Albert. Neither has anyone con-
tested our position that there were never
many, probably no more than four, in-res-
idence wet nurses at any one time (Beck et
al., 2009). Douglas is one of very few chil-
dren who could have been Albert. The
question reduces to this: Was Douglas Al-
bert’s nursery mate or was he Albert?
In making that decision, consider the
following: (a) Both Albert’s and Douglas’s
mothers worked at the Harriet Lane Home.
(b) Albert’s mother was a wet nurse, and
Arvilla gave birth on March 9, 1919, so she
could have served as a wet nurse. (c) Doug-
las, like Albert, spent almost his entire first
year at Harriet Lane. (d) Albert and Doug-
las left Hopkins during the early 1920s. (e)
By jointly considering Watson and
Rayner’s (1920) article, the film, and
Watson’s correspondence with Goodnow,
we determined that Albert was born be-
tween March 2 and March 16, 1919, a date
that we believe is still firmly supported.
Douglas was born on March 9, 1919. (f)
Albert and Douglas were Caucasian males.
(g) Visual inspection and biometric analy-
ses revealed facial similarities between Al-
bert and Douglas (Beck et al., 2009).
One may dismiss these commonalities
as a rare series of coincidences. Or one may
conclude that while each of these charac-
teristics applies to more than one person,
the probability that the entire set applies to
anyone other than Albert is exceptionally
low. We believe that the available evidence
strongly supports the proposition that
Douglas Merritte was Little Albert.
REFERENCES
Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009).
Finding Little Albert: A journey to John B.
Watson’s infant laboratory. American Psy-
chologist, 64, 605–614. doi:10.1037/
a0017234
Harris, B. (1979). Whatever happened to little
Albert? American Psychologist, 34, 151–160.
doi:10.1037/0003-066X.34.2.151
Powell, R. A. (2010). Little Albert still missing.
American Psychologist, 65, 299–300. doi:
10.1037/a0019288
Reese, H. W. (2010). Regarding Little Albert.
American Psychologist, 65, 300–301. doi:
10.1037/a0019332
Watson, J. B. (Writer/Director). (1923). Experi-
mental investigation of babies [motion pic-
ture]. (Distributed by C. H. Stoelting Co., 424
N. Homan Ave, Chicago, IL).
Watson, J. B. (1925). Behaviorism. New York,
NY: Norton. (Original work published 1924)
Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned
emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental
Psychology, 3, 1–14. doi:10.1037/h0069608
Correspondence concerning this comment
should be addressed to Hall P. Beck, Psychology
Department, 222 Joyce Lawrence Lane, Appala-
chian State University, Boone, NC 28608. E-
mail: beckhp@appstate.edu
303May–June 2010 American Psychologist
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This article is intended solely for the personal use of the individual user and is not to be disseminated broadly.
... This search for answers was made even more difficult because Watson, late in his life, burned all of his research notes and papers, which may have included information about Little Albert (Buckley, 1989). Now, however, there are two competing evidentiary-based answers as to Albert's identity-Douglas Merritte (Beck & Irons, 2011;Beck et al., 2009;Beck, Levinson, & Irons, 2010;Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, & Irons, 2012a, 2012b and Albert Barger Powell, Digdon, Harris, & Smithson, 2014). Because the supporting publications for each proposed Albert are so new, a discussion of this identity debate is not available in current introductory textbooks. ...
... It is possible though that he was informally adopted for a short time after leaving the hospital and then later reunited with his mother, perhaps after her and Charles Martin married. In addition, it is possible that Watson (1925) was wrong, and the Little Albert purported adoption was just a myth because there is no corroborative evidence of such an adoption (Beck et al., 2010). Regardless, even though the Little Albert saga has always had characters and plot, it has never had a credible conclusion. ...
Article
Full-text available
This article is concerned with the recent debate about the identity of psychology's lost boyLittle Albert, the infant subject in Watson and Rayner's classic experiment on fear conditioning. For decades, psychologists and psychology students have been intrigued by the mystery of Albert's fate. Now two evidentiary-based solutions to this mystery have been proposed. Given the present absence of coverage in introductory textbooks, the purpose of this article is to provide a cornerstone resource for teachers to use as an advance organizer to the literature on this debate. Synopses of the search and resulting evidence for each candidate are provided. A summative comparison of the evidence indicates that Albert Barger is likely Little Albert and that Douglas Merritte is not.
... Further investigations, including biometric analyses on available pictures of Douglas and Albert, led the authors to the conclusion that baby Albert was indeed the son of Arvilla Merritte. This conclusion was, however, not without debate (Beck, Levinson & Irons, 2010;Powell, 2010;Reese, 2010). This was more than a historical debate, particularly when the stakes were raised by a paper in which Fridlund, Beck, Goldie and Irons (2012) presented evidence that Douglas Merritte was a neurologically damaged boy at the moment of testing. ...
... Verovatno je tome presudno doprineo Harris (1979Harris ( , 2011, koji je istovremeno ukazao kako na manjkavosti same studije, tako i na manjkavosti njenog prikaza u mnogim udžbenicima psihologije. Rezultat toga je bila prava lavina napisa, jer su se tim pitanjima pozabavili i mnogi drugi (beck, levinson, & Irons, 2009(beck, levinson, & Irons, , 2010Fridlund, beck, Goldie, & Irons, 2012;Griggs, 2014Griggs, , 2015. potraga za odgovorom na pitanje o identitetu i sudbini malog alberta podstakla je pitanja o tome: a) da li je tu zaista reč o afektivnom uslovljavanju kao podvrsti klasičnog uslovljavanja ili o nekoj patološkoj manifestaciji; b) da li je tu reč o stvarnom eksperimentu ili studiji slučaja ili kliničkom metodu; i c) kakve su etičke konsekvence takvih istraživanja (Goodwin, 2015;todd & morris, 1992;Youngpeter, 2008). ...
Article
A century has passed since the publication of a case study report on the subject of affective conditioning known as "The Little Albert Experiment" (Votson & Rejner, 1920). This study has proven to be of great importance to further development of behaviorism and to the development of modern psychology as a whole, becoming an indispensable part of psychology coursebooks, such as Psychology 101, Developmental Psychology, Psychology of Learning and History of Psychology. The study is closely linked to several turning points in the personal life and professional career of Džon B. Votson (1878 - 1958), the most important representative of an authentically American school of thought called behaviorism. This paper will present these crucial moments both in Votson's life and in the development of modern psychology together with several fundamental themes in the history and historiography of psychology. Firstly, we lay out the contemporary socio-cultural context in the United States and outline the major trends in the development of psychology at the turn of the 20th century. A biographical sketch of J. B. Votson follows, together with the description of tenets of original behaviorism as it was presented and developed in Votson's writings. "The Little Albert Experiment" is presented in detail, as well as the search for "Little Albert"'s identity and his fate as the sole subject of this experiment. Finally, we relate the fates of J. B. Votson and his family, and conclude by giving a brief account of the legacy and influence of behaviorism on contemporary scientific psychology.
... With respect to the third hypothesis regarding coverage of the recent developments in the Little Albert story, only nine texts (39%) mentioned the claim that the identity of Little Albert had been established, and only six of these texts actually used Douglas Merritte's name. Eight of the nine texts cited Beck et al. (2009) as support for the claim, and one of these texts also cited Beck et al. (2010). Strangely, one text cited Harris (2011) instead of one of the Beck et al. articles as the reference for the Merritte claim, and the Harris article is clearly anti-Merritte (i.e., arguing Merritte is likely not Little Albert). ...
Article
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Inaccuracies, especially concerning the stimulus generalization findings, in textbook descriptions of the Little Albert study have been well documented since the 1970s. However, there has not been a systematic examination of introductory psychology textbooks since the 1980s to determine whether such inaccuracies still persist. This study filled this gap by examining 23 current introductory texts for accuracy in their coverage of the Little Albert story. In addition, it checked for coverage of recent unsettled issues in the story-the claimed identification of Albert, discovery of his neurological impairment, and early death at 6 years of age. Inaccuracies, especially concerning generalization, are still present in some texts, and coverage of recent developments is rather limited. Resource information for remediation is provided.
... Rus- sel A. Powell (2010Powell ( , 2011) i Hayne W. Reese (2010) wskazują na szereg argumentów i fak- tów, które, jeśli nie podważają, to zmniejsza- ją pewność, że Mały Albert to Douglas Mer- ritte. H.P. Beck, S. Levinson i G. Irons (2010) większość z nich przekonująco odpierają (por. także Fridlund et al., 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
In 1920 John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner published the results of the study experiment describing how they had conditioned an 11-month-old boy (known as Little Albert) to fear a rat. The experiment is one of the best known and the most frequently cited empirical studies in the history of psychology. Many studies and theories suggesting the role of learning processes in the development of emotional responses were initiated by the Little Albert experiment. The article summarizes the procedures and results of the experiment reported by J.B. Watson and R. Rayner. The importance and impact of the results of the experiment on the development of psychological theories and research is discussed. Errors in the discussions of the Little Albert experiment in Polish psychological literature are identifi ed. The results of the latest historical research on the Little Albert experiment are summarized and their consequences are discussed.
Article
Watson's 1913 manifesto, and later elaborations of it, changed child psychology into a natural science based on experimental research and stimulus-response theorizing. These influences probably resulted partly from the philosophical and theoretical attractiveness of a natural science approach, partly from the objectivity and persuasiveness of an experimental approach, and partly from misunderstandings and misrepresentations of his behaviorism. These points are discussed in the first two major sections of this paper, respectively on Watson's influence on child psychology in general and, as a concrete illustration, his influence specifically in the domain of emotions and emotional development. The latter section shows, for example, that misinterpretations of Watson's theory of emotions led to many experimental investigations in an area that had been overwhelmingly nonexperimental. The final section is a ruminative summary in that its conclusions come largely from considerations given in the first two sections but also partly from considerations not covered there.
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A psicanálise está bastante difundida na pós-graduação brasileira. No entanto o número de pesquisas sobre as críticas à psican álise é notavelmente pequeno, e a revisão de literatura aponta que ainda não há um claro reconhecimento da crítica à psicanálise como um campo de pesquisa. Com exceção de um autor (Beividas), tampouco há um retrato fiel da amplitude e diversidade das críticas à psicanálise. Seguindo Dufresne, propomos a denominação de Estudos Freudianos Críticos (EFC) para o conjunto de trabalhos que estudam a psicanálise e se inserem nessa perspectiva crítica. Procuramos chamar a atenção para o tema, realizando uma descrição básica do trabalho de cinco dos principais autores do campo: Ellenberger, Sulloway, Roazen, Grünbaum e Macmillan. Como conclusão, argumentamos que a inclusão dos EFC é algo fundamental no contexto do ensino e pesquisa da psicanálise, pois, sem a presença da crítica, o ensino da psicanálise corre o risco de ser alienante.
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In 1920, John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner attempted to condition a phobia in a young infant named "Albert B." In 2009, Beck, Levinson, and Irons proposed that Little Albert, as he is now known, was actually an infant named Douglas Merritte. More recently, Fridlund, Beck, Goldie, and Irons (2012) claimed that Little Albert (Douglas) was neurologically impaired at the time of the experiment. They also alleged that Watson, in a severe breach of ethics, probably knew of Little Albert's condition when selecting him for the study and then fraudulently hid this fact in his published accounts of the case. In this article, we present the discovery of another individual, Albert Barger, who appears to match the characteristics of Little Albert better than Douglas Merritte does. We examine the evidence for Albert Barger as having been Little Albert and, where relevant, contrast it with the evidence for Douglas Merritte. As for the allegations of fraudulent activity by Watson, we offer comments at the end of this article. We also present evidence concerning whether Little Albert (Albert Barger) grew up with the fear of furry animals, as Watson and Rayner speculated he might. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved).
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Examines J. B. Watson and R. Rayner's 1920 conditioning of the infant Albert B. Using published sources, the present article reviews the study's actual procedures and its relationship to Watson's career and work. A history of psychologists' accounts of the Albert study is also presented, focusing on the study's distortion by Watson himself, general textbook authors, behavior therapists, and most recently, a prominent learning theorist. The author proposes possible causes for these distortions and analyzes the Albert study as an example of myth making in the history of psychology. (98 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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In 1920, John Watson and Rosalie Rayner claimed to have conditioned a baby boy, Albert, to fear a laboratory rat. In subsequent tests, they reported that the child's fear generalized to other furry objects. After the last testing session, Albert disappeared, creating one of the greatest mysteries in the history of psychology. This article summarizes the authors' efforts to determine Albert's identity and fate. Examinations of Watson's personal correspondence, scientific production (books, journal articles, film), and public documents (national census data, state birth and death records) suggested that an employee at the Harriet Lane Home was Albert's mother. Contact with the woman's descendents led the authors to the individual they believe to be "Little Albert."
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If the theory advanced by Watson and Morgan (in 'Emotional Reactions and Psychological Experimentation,' American Journal of Psychology, April, 1917, Vol. 28, pp. 163-174) to the effect that in infancy the original emotional reaction patterns are few, consisting so far as observed of fear, rage and love, then there must be some simple method by means of which the range of stimuli which can call out these emotions and their compounds is greatly increased. Otherwise, complexity in adult response could not be accounted for. These authors without adequate experimental evidence advanced the view that this range was increased by means of conditioned reflex factors. It was suggested there that the early home life of the child furnishes a laboratory situation for establishing conditioned emotional responses. The present authors present their experimental findings of conditioned fear responses in a male infant beginning at 11 months of age. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Comments on the article by H. P. Beck, S. Levinson., & G. Irons (see record 2009-18110-004 ). Beck, Levinson, and Irons (October 2009) concluded from intensive detective work that Watson and Rayner’s (1920) “Albert B.” was Douglas Merritte, born at the Johns Hopkins Hospital on March 9, 1919. However, they overlooked one supporting consideration (see paragraph 4c in the article) and some contradictory considerations (see the remaining paragraphs). (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Comments on the article by H. P. Beck, S. Levinson, & G. Irons (see record 2009-18110-004 ). Beck, Levinson, and Irons presented a fascinating account of how they seemingly solved the mystery of whatever happened to Little Albert, the infant in whom Watson and Rayner (1920) claimed to have conditioned a rat phobia. Using government census data, the authors identified a woman, Arvilla Merritte, who worked as a wet nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital during the period that Watson and Rayner were conducting research there. Hospital records revealed that Arvilla gave birth to a son, Douglas, in the hospital several months earlier, such that the child’s age closely matched, within a critical two week time period, the reported age of Albert. On the basis of this and other evidence, the authors concluded that Douglas very likely was Albert (the published name, Albert B., apparently having been a pseudonym). However, there are several deficiencies in the authors’ analysis that seriously undermine their conclusion. Beck et al. (2009) offered various forms of evidence in support of their thesis. These included a report of a biometric comparison between some poor-quality film images of Albert and an old photograph of Douglas; unfortunately, this comparison seems to have been, at best, highly inconclusive. Instead, the strongest evidence by far was the congruence between Douglas and Albert in gender, race, and age. But herein lies a problem. Why assume that half the infants born to a wet nurse at Johns Hopkins would be Caucasian, especially when another potential wet nurse identified in the census was described as being the only Black among the 379 individuals registered in that enumeration district? The second difficulty for Beck et al.’s (2009) thesis relates to the record of Douglas’s birth at Johns Hopkins. The greatest difficulty for the notion that Douglas was the real Albert relates to the purported rumor that Albert was later adopted.
Experimental investigation of babies
  • J B Watson
Watson, J. B. (Writer/Director). (1923). Experimental investigation of babies [motion picture]. (Distributed by C. H. Stoelting Co., 424 N. Homan Ave, Chicago, IL).
Conditioned emotional reactions doi:10.1037/h0069608 Correspondence concerning this comment should be addressed to Hall P. Beck, Psychology Department
  • J B Watson
  • R Rayner
Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3, 1–14. doi:10.1037/h0069608 Correspondence concerning this comment should be addressed to Hall P. Beck, Psychology Department, 222 Joyce Lawrence Lane, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC 28608. Email: beckhp@appstate.edu
  • J B Watson
Watson, J. B. (1925). Behaviorism. New York, NY: Norton. (Original work published 1924)