September 9, 2010
This review of literature is a contrast and comparison between two research studies that took place seventy years apart. The earlier research (Watson & Rayner, 1920) was an experimental (Huffman, 2007) research study that set out to prove that it was possible to condition a person’s emotional responses at infancy. The later research (Zellner & Kautz, 1990) was a correlational (Huffman, 2007) research project that set out to prove or disprove earlier research (Engen, 1972) that claimed that color additives enhance the strength of odors. Both research projects were done in controlled, laboratory type settings allowing both sets of researchers the ability to methodically program the experiments, which in turn created an environment that could give them the ability to collect the necessary data and prove their hypotheses. This worked for Zellner & Kautz (1990) but not for Watson & Rayner (1920).
“Conditioned Emotional Reactions”
John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner (1920) published the results of an experimental research study conducted using a single subject, an infant named “Albert”. Their research was conducted within the confines of the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children where the boy’s mother worked as a wet nurse. Their hypothesis was to prove that by using a controlled set of variables they would be able to condition uncontrollable emotional responses by the child. The research states that the child’s mother was present on at least one occasion during testing, thereby suggesting consent was given to use the boy for these experiments. What we do not know is if she was present during the experiments when Watson & Rayner were using the single variable to cause the effect they were trying to prove.
The method used was to use a single manipulative action during a set of variables that would create an affect in how the child reacted to touching a rat, a rabbit, a dog and several objects including a set of playing blocks, a piece of fur and at one time a mask of Santa Claus. The child was picked for the reason that he appeared to be healthy with no prior issues regarding emotions including fear, anger or love. This possible preconditioned bias was a concern that came from earlier research conducted in emotional conditioning (Watson & Morgan, 1917).
The experiments were conducted over a period of time with intentional lapses to determine how long the conditioning remained affective. The method used to create the noise was to hit a steel pipe with a hammer. The action was done within several feet of Albert but without his knowledge of what caused the noise. This was purposely done so the child would think that the noise was created when he touched the animals. The conditioning was reported to have worked when further tests showed that when the child would later touch the animals, or in at least one occurrence the researchers forced contact between Albert and the rat, that he showed obvious fear, without the sound of the hammer being present. As the lapses in time between testing increased, Albert’s conditioning weakened. When this happened, the noise was re-introduced to strengthen the conditioned responses. The final data presented suggested that conditioning did work but only lasted for short periods of time. At one point in the testing, Albert was reported to such his thumb when he became scared. Watson & Rayner would stop him from sucking his thumb as thumb sucking was not part of their research variables. Albert was removed from the Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children when he was just under 13 months old. It is not made clear if the mother stopped working there or if she purposely took Albert away because of the reactions he was showing due to the experiments.
Watson and Rayner suggested that had Albert remained longer they would have had the opportunity to create a method to un-condition the emotional responses they created from their experiments. They referred to this as “Detachment”. They claimed that the conditioning they were able to establish was permanent without the data to prove this. “Our own view, expressed above, which is possibly not very well grounded, is that these responses in the home environment are likely to persist indefinitely, unless an accidental method for removing them is hit upon.”
Zellner & Kautz (1990) reviewed early research by various scientists that conducted research relative to the enhancement of sensory attributes. Scientific studies noted included work with shapes and colors (Duncker, 1939); studies using sizes and weights (Aylor & Marks, 1976); and enhancements in taste (Pangborn, 1960). In particular, they discussed Engen (1972) who researched colors and whether or not they intensified the odors in foods. Zellner & Kautz (1990) set out to test Engen’s (1972) theories as described in their article.
Zellner and Kautz (1990) sought to test Engen’s (1972) earlier data on whether it was possible to enhance and strengthen odors by adding colors. This was done by setting up a set of 3 experiments using different control groups. Where Watson & Rayner used a single subject for their testing, Zellner & Kautz used 3 different sets of undergraduate students from Shippensburg University to participate in their tests. This decision not only gave them a plethora of subjects to use it also gave them the ability to eliminate possible biases in their results. As is discussed in the section of the “Four Key Research Methods” (Huffman, 2007), the results of the first experiment allowed Zellner & Kautz to test their own results in the second round of experiments. The results of the second round confirm the results of the first. The final results from the three sets of tests gave them (Zellner & Kautz, 1990) enough data to allow them to correlate them and determine if their hypothesis was correct. According to their final conclusion their results offered different data from Engen’s (1972) earlier research but did confirm that adding recognizable color to an existing odor did increase the subject’s awareness of the odors.
Zellner & Kautz used different variables to get a wide area of data. The tests were conducted using vials of liquid. The article included two sets of graphs showing the correlation between the “solutions” used and the “intensity ratings”. The first graph showed the results of the first set of experiments where there were 4 sets of variables used for the test tubes using four different flavors, mint, strawberry, orange and lemon. In each case the colors used were socially recognizable for the odor, red for strawberry, green for mint, yellow for lemon and orange for orange.
The second graph showed the data from the third experiment where the colors did not match the odors. The researchers attempted to confirm that color only enhanced the sense (strength) of the odors if the colors used were recognizable to the subjects. Orange was eliminated in the third test since orange is so closely identified only to the fruit whereas green, red and yellow are more interchangeable with other foods. They determined that the third experiment did not disprove the results established by the first two experiments.
Compare and Contrast
The earlier research on emotional conditioning (Watson & Rayner, 1920) was an “Experimental Basic Research” method (Huffman, 2007). The research sought out to prove that with a cause (loud noise) they would be able to create a conditioned effect (fear) in their subject. The results from the tests they were able to conduct were similar to the descriptive method as well since they observed Albert to watch his reactions and see how his behavior changed. They (Watson & Rayner, 1920) were not able to finish their research as the mother of the child took him away before they could complete their research. This also follows the “Disadvantages” noted in Experimental Research where they had no control over variables such as keeping their research subject for the length of their research. They also experienced other disadvantages during their research including unscheduled lapses between experiments and the issue of Albert’s sucking his thumb as a means of handling his emotional responses, something the researchers apparently did not anticipate.
Zellner & Kautz (1990) set out to predict what would happen in their experiments. They were able to better control their experiments since their subjects signed on for what was only a short period of time needed for the tests. When they found possible issue with formulating their results they were able to overcome these by eliminating a number of their subjects which in turn created an even field to compare and correlate their research. Unlike the Watson & Rayner (1920) who depended solely on one individual, Zellner & Kautz had more than 40 subjects and were able to eliminate part of the results to create two distinct groups of 20 and 20 subjects to analyze. This became instrumental in establishing that their hypothesis could be proven positively based on strong substantiated data. The fact that they were working with undergraduate students also gave them the ability to communicate verbally with their subjects and obtain responses to questions. This is not something Watson & Rayner (1920) could do with young Albert with whom they had to depend on what they observed since he was too young to discuss his personal emotions.
Aylor, D. E., & Marks, L. E. (1976). Perception of noise transmitted through barriers. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 59, 397-400.
Duncker, K. (1939). The incluence of past experience upon perceptual properties. American Journal of Psychology(52), 255-265.
Engen, T. (1972). The effect of expectation on judgments of odor. Acta Psychologica, 36, 450-458.
Huffman. (2007). Psychology in Action (8e). John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Pangborn, R. M. (1960). Influence of color on the discrimnation of sweetness. American Journal of Psychology(73), 229-258.
Watson, & Morgan. (1917, April). Emotional Reactions and Psychological Experimentation. American Journal of Psychology, 28, 161-174.
Watson, J. B., & Rayner, R. (1920, February). Conditioned Emotional Reactions. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1-14.
Zellner, D. A., & Kautz, M. A. (1990). Color Affects Perceived Odor Intensity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, 16(2), 391-397.
- The Little Albert Experiment (psychology.about.com)
- Asparagus smell – wee progress [Asparagus Smell] (io9.com)
- Science proves a rose by any other name doesn’t smell as sweet [Mad Science] (io9.com)
- NCBI ROFL: A rose by any other name: would it smell as sweet? | Discoblog (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- The Primitive, Complicated, Essential Emotion Called Fear (innovevolve.com)
- Snot Affects Sense of Smell – Discovery News (news.google.com)
- The weirdest of 2010’s Weird Science (arstechnica.com)
- 6 Famous Psychology Experiments (psychology.about.com)
- Science makes important first step towards the smelloscope [Madscience] (io9.com)
- Does Perimenopause Cause Odor, Cysts? (everydayhealth.com)
- Go for the Fossils, Stay for the Brains (livescience.com)
- We’ve come a long way since Pavlov (psychologytoday.com)
- Albert Watson dedicated limited edition of the Macallan Sherry Oak Whisky & photography competition (carpediemclub.wordpress.com)
- Students are the perfect medical guinea pigs – I should know | Tim Skellett (guardian.co.uk)
- Psychology (socyberty.com)
- Two More Community Members Attacked By Litrell, Hamilton and Rayner Gang! (savesedonanow.wordpress.com)
- Bills sign Dave Rayner (profootballtalk.nbcsports.com)
- Chefs’ Manifesto: Reality Check, Please (thedailymeal.com)
- Outline The Basic Position of Behaviourism, Indicating Some of The Different Forms It Can Take (socyberty.com)
- Understanding the Psychology Research Process (psychology.about.com)
- TransEngen Certifies mednetpartners to its IntegrationEngen Platform to Enhance Interoperability (prweb.com)
- Mayor, bus union hope to ease tensions (cbc.ca)
- Ivan Pavlov’s Effect on The Field of Psychology (socyberty.com)