Monday, March 8, 2010

Poor Little Albert

Today in psych class, we heard about Little Albert, an 11-month-old baby that was the sole subject of a rather cruel and unethical psychology study done in the 1920s.

Little Albert was shown little furry animals. Like any baby, he wasn't afraid. That is, until the experimenters repeatedly scared the poop out of him every time he saw a furry animal. They'd make a loud clang with a metal bar when he saw a rat, and that would make him cry. After a while, they no longer needed make the noise; Albert had successfully associated the loud noise with little furry animals, and the animals themselves would make him cry. Even a mask of Santa Clause freaked him out. Check out this sad video.

His family moved away before they could undo the conditioning. Such an experiment would not be allowed on a baby today. Poor little guy.

If any man took a Santa mask and got THAT in-your-face with any of my kids, I'd give HIM a dose of conditioning.

According to Wikipedia, Little Albert died of hydrocephalus at the age of 5.



  2. Catharine BerghuisJune 24, 2010 at 4:26 AM

    It seems that science has had it's share of unethical past....not so unlike religion, I guess.