Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy


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Do groups of people from different cultural and economic backgrounds differ when considered in the light of their particular personality attributes or traits? How large are the group differences? Hence, a narrowly focused approach is inadequate to do justice to the complex human behaviour that occurs under the constantly changing set of challenges, pleasures, demands, and stresses of everyday life. The sophisticated measurement of human personality inescapably depends on the use of a variety of concepts to provide trait definitions and entails the application of various methods of observation and evaluation.

Personality theorists and researchers seek to define and to understand the diversity of human traits, the many ways people have of thinking and perceiving and learning and emoting. Such nonmaterial human dimensions, types, and attributes are constructs —in this case, inferences drawn from observed behaviour.

Widely studied personality constructs include anxiety, hostility, emotionality, motivation, and introversion-extroversion. Anxiety, for example, is a concept, or construct , inferred in people from what they say, their facial expressions, and their body movements. Personality is interactional in two senses. As indicated above, personal characteristics can be thought of as products of interactions among underlying psychological factors; for example, an individual may experience tension because he or she is both shy and desirous of social success.

These products, in turn, interact with the types of situations people confront in their daily lives. A person who is anxious about being evaluated might show debilitated performance in evaluative situations for example, taking tests , but function well in other situations in which an evaluative emphasis is not present. Personality makeup can be either an asset or a liability depending on the situation. For example, some people approach evaluative situations with fear and foreboding, while others seem to be motivated in a desirable direction by competitive pressures associated with performance.

Efforts to measure personality constructs stem from a variety of sources. Frequently they grow out of theories of personality; anxiety and repression the forgetting of unpleasant experiences , for example, are among the central concepts of the theory of psychoanalysis. Among the major issues in the study of personality measurement is the question of which of the many personality constructs that have been quantified are basic or fundamental and which can be expected to involve wasted effort in their measurement because they represent poorly defined combinations of more elemental constructs; which measurement techniques are most effective and convenient for the purpose of assessment; and whether it is better to interview people in measuring personality, or to ask them to say, for example, what an inkblot or a cloud in the sky reminds them of.

Efforts to measure any given personality construct can fail as a result of inadequacies in formulating or defining the trait to be measured and weaknesses in the assessment methods employed. An investigator might desire to specify quantitatively the degree to which individuals are submissive in social and competitive situations. His effectiveness will depend on the particular theory of submissiveness he brings to bear on the problem; on the actual procedures he selects or devises to measure submissiveness; and on the adequacy of the research he performs to demonstrate the usefulness of the measure.

Each of these tasks must be considered carefully in evaluating efforts to measure personality attributes. They had two children together, Mary and John. Watson graduated in with a Ph. In , at age 29, his reputation as a top researcher in animal behavior earned him a position at Johns Hopkins University as a professor of psychology. In October , Watson was asked to leave his faculty position at Johns Hopkins University due to an affair with his top research assistant, a graduate student named Rosalie Rayner.

Ickes, were members of prominent Baltimore political families. Not only was the Watsons' divorce that December front page news, but Baltimore papers also published excerpts from some of Watson's love letters to Rayner. Johns Hopkins president, Frank Goodnow, reportedly gave Watson a choice: his relationship with Rayner, or keeping his job at Hopkins. Watson's closeness to his research assistant, a woman half his age, was so strong that he resigned from Johns Hopkins and married Rayner in December They also had two children together, James and William.

Watson based many of his behaviorist studies on his children, which strained relationships within the family.

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With his affair with Rayner, he brought a scandal upon Johns Hopkins that was so great that his reputation among the U. Consequently, Watson had to start over in a new career at the age of Watson stopped writing for popular audiences in , and retired from advertising several years later. After Rosalie Rayner's death in , he lived on a farm in Connecticut. He was rumored to have been a heavy drinker, but he actually gave up alcohol on the advice of his physician and enjoyed good health well into old age.

He died in at age 80, shortly after receiving a citation from the American Psychological Association for his contributions to psychology. Historian John Burnham interviewed Watson late in his life, and reported him to still be a man of strong opinions and some bitterness towards his detractors. Except for a set of reprints of his academic works, Watson burned his very large collection of letters and personal papers, thus depriving historians of a valuable resource for understanding the early history of behaviorism and Watson himself.

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It has been described as a "classic of developmental psychobiology" by historian of psychology, Donald Dewsbury. Watson showed that the degree of myelinization was largely unrelated to learning ability. The major work he did in his years at the University of Chicago after graduating was a series of ethological studies of sea birds done in the Dry Tortugas Islands in Florida. He studied all aspects of the birds' behavior: imprinting, homing, mating, nesting habits, feeding, and chick-rearing.

These extensive studies, carried out over four years, were some of the earliest examples of what would later be called "ethology," and his comprehensive records of the birds' behavior were some of the earliest examples of the "ethogram": a comprehensive record of the naturally occurring behavior of an organism. In , Watson published what is considered by many to be his most important work, the article "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It," sometimes called "The Behaviorist Manifesto. Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science.

Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods, nor is the scientific value of its data dependent upon the readiness with which they lend themselves to interpretation in terms of consciousness. The behaviorist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute. The behavior of man, with all of its refinement and complexity, forms only a part of the behaviorist's total scheme of investigation. Watson's philosophy of science was shaped by many sources. The history of experimental physiology taught to him by Loeb was one important influence, in particular the reflex studies of Ivan M.

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Sechenov and Vladimir Bekhterev. The work of Ivan Pavlov , especially his conditioned reflex studies, had a large impact on Watson, and he eventually included a highly simplified version of Pavlov's principles in his popular works. In , Watson even made Pavlov's formulation the subject of his presidential address to the American Psychological Association.

Watson's behaviorist "manifesto" is notable for its lack of reference to specific principles of behavior. This caused many of Watson's colleagues to dismiss "Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It" as philosophical speculation without much foundation.


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The article only became well-known to psychologists generally after it started to be widely cited in introductory psychology textbooks in the s. The article is notable for its strong defense of the objective scientific status of applied psychology, which at the time was considered to be much inferior to the established structuralist experimental psychology. With his development of behaviorism, Watson put the emphasis on the external behavior of people and their reactions in given situations, rather than on their internal, mental state. In his opinion, the analysis of behaviors and reactions was the only objective method to gain insight in the human actions.

Behaviorism influenced many important scientists, especially B.

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Skinner , who would go on to test Watson's theories and develop his own theory of operant conditioning. At Johns Hopkins University in , Watson and Rayner performed one of the most controversial experiments in the history of psychology. It has become immortalized in introductory psychology textbooks as the "Little Albert experiment.


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  4. As the story of Little Albert became well known, inaccuracies and inconsistencies and rumors crept in see Harris for an analysis. Albert was 11 months and three days old at the time of the first test. Because of his young age, the experiment was later considered unethical. Since this experiment, the American Psychological Association has published much stronger ethical guidelines, rendering it unrepeatable. The controversy surrounding this experiment actually developed much later.

    There seemed to be little concern about it in Watson's time. Dewsbury reported that Watson received greater criticism from early animal rights groups over some of his experiments with rats, particularly a study, "Kinaesthetic and Organic Sensations: Their Role in the Reactions of the White Rat to the Maze.

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    Before the start of the experiment, when Albert was 9 months old, Watson and Rayner ran a series of emotional tests on him. The infant was confronted with many new objects and animals, and at no time showed any fear. When the actual experiment began, Watson exposed Albert to a loud sound right behind his head while also presenting him with a white rat. After obtaining the required reaction of discomfort and crying from Albert when he was exposed to both the sound and the rat simultaneously, Watson and Rayner presented him solely with the rat.

    Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy
    Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy
    Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy
    Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy
    Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy Experimentation., Personal Tendencies, and Controversy

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