John Watson

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John Watson

John Watson

Watson published an essay in 1913 called "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It" in which he outlined his beliefs that humans are defined not by any introspective thoughts or feelings, but by actions and behaviors only. He claimed the primary function for psychology was as a predictor or means of controlling behavior. Since thoughts cannot be objectively studied, he argued scientists should not use them as a source of experimentation.

25 September 1958

9 January 1878

In February 1920, Watson published results of what has been come to be known as the "Little Albert Experiment." In attempting to prove that all behavior is conditioned, Watson presented a white rat to a very young child, and noticed the child was unafraid of it. He then continued to show the rat, as well as other furry animals and objects, to the baby, but this time always accompianed by a loud, frightening sound made by hitting a steel bar with a hammer. Over time, the infant associated the scary noise with the animal and would cry even at the sight of it.

A published still from the "Little Albert" experiments.

"Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I'll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even beggar-man and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors."


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