Archive for the ‘ Alyssa ’ Category

Mystery Solved

John Watson’s classical conditioning experiment is quite famous in the world of psychology.  First year university students everywhere hear about “Little Albert”, who was a baby around 9 months old who had not been exposed to rats before the experiment began.  Tests were done judging the child’s reaction to a number of various stimulus, including a white rat, and it was found that he regarded most of the stimulus’ with no fear.

Experimenters brought in a white rat and let Little Albert play with it.  The experiment began when the unconditioned stimulus (a loud noise which occurred when a steel bar was hit with a hammer behind Little Albert’s back) was found to produce the desired unconditioned response (fear).  Every time Little Albert would reach out to pet the white rat, experimenters would hit the steel bar with the hammer.  After repeated trials Little Albert – quite understandably – began to fear the white rabbit.

Unfortunately, Little Albert was removed from the experiment before Watson could de-condition him.  The child himself became lost to psychologists, and they were unable to follow up on how the experiment effected his life.  This mystery has puzzled psychologist’s for years, but finally, the mystery has been solved.

Douglas Merritte, a boy who died at the age of 6 due to a condition called hydrocephalus (an excess of fluids in the brain) fits the criteria for the child most commonly known as Little Albert.  Unfortunately we’ll never know what his life may have been like due to the experiment, but he most likely had other much worse problems to worry about.  Hall P. Beck, with a team of colleagues and students are the ones responsible for tracking down the information to solve this mystery.

The article I found this information in can be found in Monitor on Psychology in the January 2010 edition.

-Posted by Alyssa Pilkington


The Angry Face and the Socially Phobic Adult

The angry face and the socially phobic adult: The time course of attention


The above poster is based on the article “The time-course of attention to emotional faces in social phobia” (Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 41, p. 39-44). There were two groups in this study, SP (Socially Phobic adults) and NP (Non-phobic adults, the control group). Each group viewed faces and objects on  a computer monitor while an eye tracking device recorded their eye movement. Participants were instructed to look wherever they liked.

The hypothesis was that socially phobic adults would show an early bias toward negative faces on face-face trials and would avoid faces in favor of objects on face-object trials. Face-face pairs consisted of angry and happy faces paired with a neutral face, and the face-object pairs were angry, happy and neutral faces paired with objects (like a vacuum, phone, lamp, table).

The results indicated support for the hypothesis. Socially phobic adults show an early bias towards negative faces, which can clearly be seen in this graph:

The focus of the article was on the left half of the above graph compared to the right graph. You can see that socially phobic adults fixated on angry faces more than the control group.  It’s also clear that the socially phobic adults and the control group fixated on happy faces more equally.  So the question that Professor Arnell asked me was: do you think socially phobic adults fixate more on angry faces, or is it just that most people typically avoid looking at negative faces?  It’s clear from the article that they thought the most interesting part of their data was socially phobic adults fixating on the negative faces.  However, this might not be the case.

Something that was either missed or just not added in is that it’s more interesting to look at the control group data in this graph.  There’s such a huge difference between the control group’s number of fixations on the happy faces compared to the angry faces, that it’s probably more likely that most people just avoid looking at negative stimulus.

– Posted by Alyssa Pilkington

Experiential Psychology and the Stream of Consciousness

Experiential, or introspective psychology, is a branch of psychology that attempts to study consciousness in its raw form, as well as through altered states of consciousness, and higher states of consciousness.  This field attempts to break away from the behaviorism’s view that psychologists should only study overt behavior. Experiential psychologists understand that just because something cannot be seen, it does not mean it does not exist or play an important role.

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