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There have been several classic experiments to study and describe classical conditioning; one of the more famous is the Little Albert experiment. Over the years, the experiment has lost some of its validity due to numerous interpretations by several introductory psychology textbooks. It is, therefore, beneficial to go back to the original (or primary) source and read what the authors of the experiment themselves had to say.

Watson J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920). Conditioned emotional reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 3(1), 1â?"14.

Read the article and answer the following questions:

Explain the initial pairing of the banging bar and the rat in terms of learning through classical conditioning. What is unconditioned stimulus (US), conditioned stimulus (CS), and conditioned response (CR)?
How were Watson and Rayner able to condition Albert to react to different stimuli such as masks, other animals, and a fur coat? Explain the concept of generalization.
Why didn't the conditioning last over time? Explain the concept of extinction.
Considering the current standards, can the same experiment be conducted (or replicated) by researchers today? Explain some of the ethical issues related to the experiment.
Make sure you cite the article you read as well as the textbook, if used.

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The researchers were trying to determine if they could condition baby Albert to fear a rat by pairing the presentation of the rat with a sudden and unexpected loud banging on a steel bar. Albert did not previously possess any fears of rats, but through conditioning his behavior the researchers were attempting to train his behavior to show fear when confronted with a rat. The presenting of the rat is the unconditioned stimulus (neutral stimulus), the conditioned stimulus is the banging on the bar, and the conditioned response is Albert's crying or showing fear when the rat was presented, even without the conditioned stimulus of banging on the bar.

Due to the similarities between the appearance and texture of the rat and a rabbit, fur coat, and Santa Claus mask the researchers were able to observe similar negative reactions in Albert. When Albert was confronted with a rabbit, dog, ...

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