Episode 114: Finding Little Albert

MichaelHistory of Psychology, Learning/Memory14 Comments


This episode of the podcast – first published in Jan of 2010 – summarized the article which details the efforts of researchers to determine the identity of the so-called “Little Albert”:

Beck, H. P., Levinson, S., & Irons, G. (2009). Finding Little Albert: A Journey to John B. Watson’s Infant Laboratory. American Psychologist, 64, 605-614.

Recent research conducted by Digdon, Powell and Harris cast doubt on the conclusions of Beck et. al and instead point to a boy named William Albert Barger as the boy known as Little Albert.

Please see this episode: Little Albert’s Real Identity: Time to Rewrite the Textbooks for the latest info on Little Albert.

More information on the myths and truths of the famous Little Albert Study can be found in episode 47.

 


14 Comments on “Episode 114: Finding Little Albert”

  1. Jean-Baptiste Q

    This is a very interesting episode.
    Considering the debate Nature vs Nurture, some might say: ” Genetic holds the gun, environment pulls the trigger.”
    Little Albert is and will stay the James Dean of Psychology, an Experimental icon.
    Thank you for your work.

  2. Liyah

    very very good video… I enjoyed it a lot, thank you… Nearly had tears in my eyes at the sight of the grave.. poor Douglas.. he was a really sweet, cute little boy.

  3. Michael

    The “James Dean” of pschology – I like that. Liyah: I too was a bit moved by the whole thing. It’s a fascinating story. Thanks for the comments.

  4. The Doctor

    It is critical to note that the death of Little Albert does not discredit the ethical issues associated with Watson’s empirical study. It would be intriguing to discover how he contracted hydrocephalus. Perhaps exhumation and modern technology could examine his cause of death.

    Maybe that will be someone else’s great discovery. Well, allons-y!

  5. Clarissa Mendonça

    It’s the first time I can access The Psych Files and I feel very glad to find such an interesting content about psychology for free on the internet. Congratulations! Little Albert’s experiment always shocked me in a way and it’s good to see a more humanitarian view of the case. Very good video.

  6. Joanne

    Really good video. Answered who Little Albert really was. Just wish we could find out more, how he contracted the illness? Sadly he only lived 6years, but had the effects of the experiment played any part in his 6years of life? Theres a million more questions i could ask, but again really pleased with the work and answers we now have.

  7. Hannah

    Thank you so much for a great video about an iconic experiment. This was so interesting and well presented.

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  12. David Bailey

    Am I missing something or have you removed the video podcast for this episode…

    If you have removed it, I am wondering why you wouldn’t keep if for historical reasons yourself even though it may not be the real Little Albert. I use this story… the search for little albert… as an example for my students to learn the thrills and disappointments of historical research. The video podcast for Episode 114 does a wonderful job of working through the challenges of searching through historical records… and ironically, at the end you state that this seems to be the end of the story, “for now..” Of course we know not it’s not, but I would like to continue to share the story (with all of the twists and turns) in it’s entirety (Episode 47 to Episode 114 to Episode 223). If you have removed it, can you put it back?

    Again, if I have missed something and it is still here, please let me know. Thanks!

  13. Michael

    David: I did remove the video a little while back when the new research came out about Albert’s real identity most likely being Albert Barger and not, as this research indicates, Douglas Merritt. However, the authors of this research plan to publish a retort in which they respond to authors of the Albert Barger article. So the real identity of “Albert” may indeed not be resolved yet.

    I appreciate your interest in the episode. It certainly was a fun one to record and who knows – maybe this it’s correct after all. Thanks for getting in touch!

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