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Ethical Principles of Psychologists - Essay Example

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Experiments conducted by behaviorists who aimed for an objective science, played a role in shaping the ethical considerations considered today by the American Psychological Association. This is because they are considered as the first psychologists who provided a study of…
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Download file to see previous pages While Peter was eating, a rabbit was brought into the room but it was kept at a far distance enough not to trigger a fearful response. Over a series of trials lasting several weeks, the rabbit was brought progressively closer at the same time Peter was eating. Eventually, he got used to the rabbit and could touch it without showing any fear. Eating was the conditioned stimulus that resulted in having no fear (conditioned response). This experiment contributed positively to building knowledge especially in developmental psychology pending that Jones was able to prove that desensitization of learned fears was possible.
With Watson and Rayner (1920) in their experiment, they went on to demonstrate Watson’s theory of conditioned emotional responses. The study on Albert was particularly important in testing the theory. Initially, Albert had no fear in the presence of white rats. However, he was startled when he heard banging a steel bar with a hammer. It was loud. The noise was considered an unconditioned stimulus that elicited a fear response whereas the rat was the neutral stimulus (Powell, Honey and Symbaluk, 2013). The two were paired and in the first trial, Albert jumped violently and fell forward burying his face in the mattress.
Through a series of trials, Albert became more and more fearful. At a point when the rat was presented without the noise, he crawled so rapidly that he experienced difficulty before reaching the edge of the table. The unfortunate twist to this is that Albert generalized his fear to other objects similar to the rat including rabbits, fur coats, dogs, and even Santa Claus masks (Powell, Honey & Symbaluk, 2013). Watson & Rayner failed to conduct the final part of the experiment which involved extinguishing the fear they had already conditioned little Albert to and this raised very many questions especially those in reference to ethical concerns.
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