Critique of Watson and Rayner (1920) and Proposal for Alternative Research
A Look at the Progression of Research and Ethics in Society
There are serious ethical shortcomings within Watson and Rayner (1920). Within it, the authors attempted to condition a fear response into an 11-month-old infant. Specifically, they wanted to verify if they could make an infant scared of an external stimulus, like an animal or an object. Their independent variable was the timing and pairing of a noise with the presentation of a live rat. The dependent variable, fear response, was measured through observations by the authors. Watson and Rayner concluded that they were able to condition a fear response into the child. Before further criticizing their work, its strengths should be highlighted.
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