Perverse experiment that made a baby afraid of Santa Claus and Bunnies


This explains the birth of the TEA party.


I read about this years and years ago, but learned that the parents of the child didn’t like the experiement and pulled their kid out before a deprogramming could occur, against the wishes and advice of the experiementers.


How about books and flowers? One wouldn’t want a delta interested in such wasteful pursuits.

Books and loud noises, flowers and electric shocks - already in the infant mind these couples were compromisingly linked; and after two hundred repetitions of the same or a similar lesson would be wedded indissolubly. What man has joined, nature is powerless to put asunder.

My favorite Watson story, from A History of Psychology in Autobiography:

A funny incident apparently made me decide to become a Ph.D. in psychology and philosophy. Professor Moore, during my junior year, had gone on a sabbatical to the University of Chicago to study psychology. I took my final year with him. One day in class he said that, if a man ever handed in a paper backwards, he would flunk him. Although I had been an honor student the whole year, by some strange streak of luck, I handed in my final paper of sixteen pages in Civics backwards. He kept his word. He flunked me and I had to stay another year, taking an A.M. and not an A.B. I made an adolescent resolve then to the effect that I’d make him seek me out for research some day. Imagine my surprise and real sorrow during the second year of my stay at Hopkins, when I received a letter from him asking to come to me as a research student. Before we could arrange it, his eyesight failed, and he died a few years later.

What does that mean?

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There is debate into the “Little Albert’s” parentage. Some reports say his mother worked with Watson and he conducted the research without her knowledge, others have him being an orphan and others have his mother being a wet-nurse (which would have made her of low social status) and that she felt pressured into the experiment. We may never know.

There is a lot of misinformation about the Little Albert experiment, much of it published in college level textbooks. Back in 1979 the journal “American Psychologist” (translation: a big name journal that isn’t easy to get published in) carried a paper by Ben Harris called “Whatever Happened to Little Albert” about how the story is often gotten wrong. For example, some versions have Watson reconditioning Albert so he’s no longer afraid. That never happened and there’s no evidence Watson ever planned on it.

The takeaway of this paper is that (1) lots of people have misremembered or misconstrued the experiment to support the theories of whatever year they were writing in, (2) Watson himself contributed to the confusion around the paper, by adding details that were not reported originally, and (3) many textbook writers rely on secondary sources, so that errors grow in the retelling of the story.

Although the paper is 35 years old, the author has now published it online at


I understood it as referring to the pages being arranged in reverse order.

Even just reading “made a baby afraid of Santa Claus” got me to instantly think of the intro to City of Lost Children…


I’m glad I’m not the only one who immediately thought of Brave New World.

@popobawa4u I’m terrified that I’m probably the only one who thought of Papa Lazarou.

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That’s not nearly as surreal as I was hoping for.

Homer: That baby-proofing crook wanted to sell us safety covers for the electrical outlets. But I’ll just draw bunny faces on them to scare Maggie away.
Marge: She’s not afraid of bunnies!
Homer: She will be!


On the subject of perversity… I’m glad that we have a much more enlightened approach when dealing with kids now-a-days…
Texas teachers could be allowed to gun down students to protect school property

The Teacher’s Protection Act, filed by Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van), would protect teachers from prosecution for killing students they believe are a threat to other students or anyone else on school grounds.

Teachers would also be permitted to kill students to protect school property under the measure, which would protect them from civil liability if they used deadly force against students.

Texas schoolchildren ordered to drop pants for poop inspection
“I said I didn’t want to, but I was told I had to because all the kids had to,” said 11-year-old Eliza Medina, who said she felt uncomfortable during the inspection. “I felt like it violated my privacy.”

We’re so sorry Little Albert
We so sorry that we made you afraid that day.
We’re so sorry Little Albert
But the bunny’s on the boil and we’re so easily called away.

I wanted to like your post. But. You know … :frowning:


You know, it could have been so much worse if they had done the opposite experiment, made a baby unafraid of dangerous things such as rattlesnakes and nests of angry hornets.

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Later in life, Watson left academics for advertising.

Of course he did.


[quote=“Boundegar, post:17, topic:50967, full:true”]
You know, it could have been so much worse if they had done the opposite experiment, made a baby unafraid of dangerous things such as …[/quote]
… the police who will deprive you of your present, politicians who’ll steal your future, and marketeers who’ll sell your past.

I’m already afraid of those, thankyouverymuch. What I need is to be brave when faced with these latterday monsters.