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  • John B. Watson famously claimed that if he were to be given a dozen healthy infants

  • he could shape them into anything: doctors, lawyers, artists, beggars or

  • thieves, regardless of their background or genetic predispositions. First he

  • completed experiments with eight-month old Albert and later he applied his

  • theory when raising his own children. In essence he applied the scientific method

  • to human psychology which he called behaviorism. With the little Albert

  • experiment Watson used the method of classical

  • conditioning to program a baby to be afraid of a lab rat. Earlier Pavlov

  • demonstrated how conditioning can trigger biological responses that are

  • inherited genetically. Watson hypothesized that we can also instill

  • new behaviors that were not inherited. To conduct the experiment Watson and his

  • assistant Rosalie Rayner placed the boy in a room where a white rat was allowed

  • to roam around. First, the boy showed no fear.

  • Then Rayner struck a steel bar with a hammer every time Albert reached out to

  • touch the rat, scaring Albert and causing him to cry. Eventually, Albert tried to

  • get away from the rat showing that he had been conditioned to fear the rat.

  • Weeks later Albert showed distress towards any furry object showing that

  • his conditioning had not only been sustained but also generalized. Watson

  • assumed that our behavior is either a reflex evoked by a stimulus or a

  • consequence of our individual history of earlier exposure to reinforcements and

  • punishments paired with our current motivational states and stimuli.

  • Unlike Freud and Jung he was not interested in thoughts or the mind

  • because in his opinion the analysis of actions and reactions were the only way

  • to apply the scientific method to psychology and get objective insights

  • into human behavior. He thought of psychology as an objective

  • branch of Natural Science, its goal the prediction and control of behavior. Like

  • his fellow behaviorists he believed that intelligence, temperament, and personality

  • are determined by the environment in which the child is raised. Watson

  • published "the psychological care of infant and child". In his book he advised

  • parents not to touch their children too often and to keep an emotional distance so

  • as not to spoil them. Playing with children, he warned, would interrupt their

  • routines. A happy child doesn't cry or seek attention. His book became a

  • best-seller and soon other scientists of his time advised against showing

  • affection. Some Western governments started to hand out leaflets advising

  • that parents should stop kissing their children. Parents developed the idea that

  • children should be left to sit quietly during the day at night, they should be

  • left crying alone until they fall asleep. A method called sleep training. Watson

  • who had a difficult childhood wanted to be a good father and applied his methods

  • to his four children John, Mary, James, and William. Unfortunately things didn't turn

  • out as planned: John complained throughout his entire life about

  • intolerable headaches and died early in his 50s. Mary developed a drinking

  • problem and attempted suicide, like her brother James. William took his own life

  • at age 40. Watson allegedly admitted that he regretted writing about child-rearing

  • as he realized he didn't know enough about it to do so. Towards the end of his

  • life he became reclusive and prior to his death in 1958

  • he burned all of his recent papers. What do you think? Watson was convinced that

  • the kind of nurturing we receive can determine our life path claiming that he

  • could turn an infant into any man he wishes, in his own family though

  • depression and bad habits were passed on from generation to generation. Does this

  • happen due to genetic predispositions or is it the effect of a child's

  • unfortunate upbringing?

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John B. Watson famously claimed that if he were to be given a dozen healthy infants


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ジョン・ワトソンの行動論 (John Watson's Theory of Behaviorism)

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    Summer に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日