Psychology Assignment

For this assignment, you will choose one of classic psychology experiment publications posted on BB. This classic articles share a common theme of highlighting how behavior is influenced by different situations, including ConditioningImitation/Modeling, and Learned Helplessness. Reading this articles will tie well with material we cover regarding learning and behavior. Note that these articles are old.  Therefore, the language may also be old, as well as the format and style of the article.

For the article you choose to read, you will answer the corresponding questions asked below in a succinct/concise 2 page (typed, single spaced) paper. The questions you will answer are meant to be thought provoking – they will require you to give explanations ‘outside the box’.

Conditioned Emotional Reactions by Watson and Rayner” (1920).  This is the classic case study of Little Albert. This study aimed to investigate how early environments, specifically during childhood, could change a child’s behavior using classical conditioning. As you read this article, notice the behavior of the infant before he was conditioned compared to after he was conditioned. Think about how this conditioned response may also spread to other objects, and how it may influence future behavior. As you read this paper, reflect on the components of this study, the importance of the findings, and the implications for real-world applications. In your reflection, think about and answer these questions below:

A. In your paper, describe the importance of this study. What were the key findings, and what did you learn? (6pts)

1.     3 points for explaining overall importance of the study. Here, the student should describe the big picture, what the results mean, and overall the reasons why this study was so famous.

2.     2 points for explaining the key findings (at least two key findings, 1 point per finding).

3.     1 point for explaining what the student learned.

B. Think about, and explain, the reason the authors were interested in creating a fear response in little Albert. What were they trying to investigate, and why was this fear conditioning important in their study? Answer this question more outside the box, rather than just restating the immediate goal of producing fear of specific objects for little Albert. (5pts)

1.     2 points for explaining why authors wanted to condition Little Albert.

2.     2 points for explaining the background research (found in the introduction) that prompted the researchers to look at emotional conditioning.

3.     1 point for explaining the importance of why fear was chosen as the behavior to condition.


C. Do you believe that if children are conditioned to fear objects or situations (or even people), that this fear will persist as they get older? Could this be one of the key building blocks for future behavior, or do you think conditioned responses could be outgrown? Why? Explain. (4pts)

1.     1 point for answering the first part (do early learned behaviors persist into older years?)

2.     1 point for answering if conditioned responses could be outgrown.

3.     2 points for explaining why or why not.

D. The authors were able to successfully create fear in little Albert, but did not discuss trying to eliminate that fear. If you were involved in this study and responsible for trying to eliminate or reduce little Albert’s fear responses to all the items he became fearful of, what would you do? What type of treatment would you implement for little Albert? (4pts)

1.     2 pts. This is a critical thinking question and will require thinking outside the box. Importantly, the student will have to come up with a systematic way to teach the child to ‘unlearn’ his fear.

2.     2pts. Explain why this technique would work to reduce the fear.


E. Apply the story of little Albert in today’s terms. Think about everyday real-world situations that people experience, which could cause similar reactions as little Albert had in this study. Explain what current situations people might be in that are similar to this study. Is there anything that can be done for these people, and if so what would you suggest to help these people with conditioned fear responses? (6pts)

1.     3 points for giving an example of someone who may be conditioned to have a specific type of emotional response.

2.     3 points for explaining how you would reduce the conditioned responses. This may be very similar to the above answer, but this time you are applying it to an every-day real-world situation.

*note: The end of this article includes argument statements against Sigmund Freud and his followers. During this time, Freud was a prominent figure in psychology that claimed the basis of behavior was a result of repressed sexual urges or situations. Watson was against Freud’s claims.

General Guidelines:

a.     Complete responses to each of the questions presented above. This includes your personal thoughts as well as a critical evaluation of the study.

b.     Good writing (e.g. grammar, complete sentences, correct punctuation, correct spelling).

c.     Evaluation of the study in your own words. Do not simply restate what the authors wrote – this is PLAGIARISM. Also, although you may work together with a classmate, you may NOT submit a similar paper. This means you may not submit a paper that is worded the same or shares similar responses – everything must be in your own words. Otherwise, this is CHEATING (and you will receive 0 points).

B.     You do NOT need to supply references for this assignment.

C.     You must add the honor code statement to the end of the paper.

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