John B. Watson (1878-1958) was an American psychologist who created the theory of “behaviorism.” His theory was a scientific psychological approach based only on complex behaviors that could be observed. The theory refuted the presence of the mind. Watson believed that mental states, motivations, and consciousness did not exist. Watson agreed with Pavlov’s ideas about conditioning and believed that all behaviors and emotions were conditioned. Watson conducted a famous experiment with “Little Albert.” He took an eleven-month-old boy who was not fearful of a rat and conditioned him to be afraid of the rat by making a loud, scary sound every time the rat appeared. Eventually the boy cried when seeing the rat even when no loud sound accompanied the rat’s appearance. The boy also became fearful when other animals appeared that resembled the rat, such as rabbits, dogs and even a fur coat. This experiment was an example of “emotional conditioning.” Watson’s theory is a forerunner of the more complex emotional conditioning that is discussed in this blog, which deals with emotions and behaviors governing our personalities and human relationships.
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