Little Albert Experiment Ethical Principles

1034 Words5 Pages
Everyone makes ethical decisions every day of their lives. Individuals adhere to many different types of ethical standards, both professional and personal. Adhering to ethical principles as a clinician or psychologist is paramount. Some experiments done in the past were unethical and led to the creation of the ethical codes by the American Psychological Association in regards to keeping individuals safe and protected when participating in experiments or studies. One unethical experiment that took place, which violated present-day ethical guidelines, is the Little Albert Experiment by John B Watson in 1920 (Danko, 2012). Little Albert was a 9 month old baby who was extremely loving with animals, especially a white rat. Unknown until 2010,…show more content…
There are five main ethical principles that clinicians must abide by: (A) beneficence and nonmaleficence, (B) fidelity and responsibility, (C) integrity, (D) justice, and (E) respect for people’s rights and dignity (American Psychological Association, 2010). Principle A is to benefit those who they work with and do no harm (American Psychological Association, 2010). A principle Watson violated was Principle A in regards to Little Albert who was conditioned to fear rats and never desensitized. Principle B is to establish relationships and hold an appropriate responsibility for their behavior (American Psychological Association, 2010). This means to do no harm to the client, which Watson violated. Principle E looks at the safety and welfare of who are vulnerable to decision making (American Psychological Association, 2010). Watson also violated this principle due to endangering the safety and welfare of…show more content…
The main concern for Little Albert was from Standard 8: Research and Publication - 8.08 Debriefing states that participants should have knowledge about the nature, results, and conclusions of the research, as well as psychologist take measures to reduce harm and when harm is done, steps are taken to minimize the harm (American Psychological Association, 2010). Watson did not desensitize Little Albert after he had created a fear of rats and furry animals. According to APA (2010), Standard 8: Research and Publication – 8.02 Informed Consent to Research states that participants must know the purpose of the research, duration and procedures, as well as have a right to decline or withdraw from the study after the study begun. Little Albert and his mother were not given these options when participating in the research by Watson. In addition, Little Albert was just an infant and therefore could not give such consent on his own. Another APA Ethical Standard that was violated was the competency of Watson. He should have developed this research idea and used several children, or even adults, instead of one single child. The list could go on and on with all of the unethical standards that were violated, but these experiments led to the increase of client’s rights and clinicians

More about Little Albert Experiment Ethical Principles

Open Document