Ep 223: Little Albert’s Real Identity – Time to Rewrite the Textbooks

[This] dispute … has been settled to the satisfaction of all neutral observers from journal editors to manuscript reviewers to … textbook authors who have seen our articles. The argument is settled…..I would turn to the question of why it took the field of psychology 5+ years to get this sorted out.”

What was the name of that baby in John Watson‘s famous videos in which he attempts to demonstrate that fears can be acquired through conditioning (pairing a loud noise with a furry animal)? A few years ago we were presented with information indicating that a boy named Douglas Merrite was the true identity of “Little Albert“. The data looked pretty convincing at that time. However, a few pieces of that data simply did not fit together for researchers Nancy Digdon, Russell Powell and Ben Harris.

After another lengthy search into the past, these researchers determined that another child fits the description and the facts of who “Little Albert” really was and that boy’s name is William Albert Barger. As is often true in life, the simple facts require fewer leaps in logic and these facts make the conclusion that William Albert Barger is “Little Albert” inescapable.

Key Facts in Favor of William Albert Barger as “Little Albert”

  • Was the son of Pearl Barger, one of 3 mothers working at John’s Hopkins during the time of the “Albert” study (Watson stated that “Albert’s” mother was employed by John’s Hopkins at the time of the study)
  • William Albert was born during the two week period that Watson’s data indicate Little Albert was born
  • Was referred to by his family by his middle name
  • Was approximately the same body weight as “Albert’s” reported body weight at the time of the study (The other candidate for Albert’s identity – Douglas Merritte – was approx six pounds under “Albert’s” reported weight
  • Sight and mobility were normal – as were “Albert’s”. Douglas Merritte had significant sight and mobility impairments due to hydrocephalus condition

In this episode I lay out some of these facts and I think you’ll be convinced as well. Unfortunately, William Albert Barger died in 2007 so researchers weren’t able to talk with him. However, it appears from what was learned from his relatives that he lead a full and rewarding life.

Ep 215: What Was Life Like in an Asylum?

asylum1Ever wondered what it was like to be a patient in an “insane asylum”? “Asylums” changed names over the years (including “State Hospital” and “Psychiatric Center”) and so did the treatment of the mentally ill. Hear from Dr. Jennifer Bazar how we went from chaining people up to hydrotherapy to sexual surgery and finally to what is called “moral treatment“. A fascinating walk down the history of psychology with an engaging psychology historian.
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Ep 191: What Was B. F. Skinner Really Like?

Would you be surprised to learn that B.F. Skinner was a very likable guy and that you may actually be very much in agreement with his ideas? Many people who study psychology have a negative impression of Skinner. Well, I’m about to challenge those impressions by presenting a side of Skinner you probably haven’t been exposed to. In these sound bytes you’ll hear his ideas about learning to play music, about discovery, having fun and becoming the most that you can be.
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Ep 173: An Interactive Neuron and Map Using ThingLink


Every once in a while a really cool tool comes along and I like to show everyone the fun I had with it. In this video episode I show how I easily made an interactive image of a neuron and an interactive map containing videos and locations for some of the major studies in psychology. Do you know where, for example, “Bobo doll” study was done? How about the spot where “Marion Keech” received her message from the alien race called the “Clarion” which revealed the inner workings of cognitive dissonance? Find out how to make your own fun and easy interactive image in this episode of The Psych Files.
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Episode 134: Hypnosis – Myth and Reality

What do you think of hypnosis? Might you be surprised to hear that hypnosis has been accepted by the American Psychological Association? And that there is recent research that strongly supports the so-called trance stare? Hypnosis has a fascinating and controversial history but today it deserves some respect. Still, it’s not a cure-all. Take a trip with me through the history of this fascinating topic on The Psych Files.

Resources on Hypnosis


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