Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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? Sprouts videos are published under the Creative Commons license that means our videos are free and anyone can download, edit and play them for personal use and public schools governments and nonprofit organizations can also use them for training, online courses, or designing new curriculums. If you want to help us reach more students you can subscribe to our channel and hit the bell button, or share this video with a friend! to help us stay independent and support our work you can join our patrons and contribute! Just visit www.patreon.com/sprouts. Even one dollar can make a difference! If you have deep insights into academic topics and want to help us explain complicated ideas in simple language, please contact us at sproutsschools.com.