Correcting the record on Watson, Rayner, and Little Albert: Albert Barger as "Psychology's lost boy".
Powell, Russell A.;
In 1920, John B. Watson and Rosalie Rayner attempted to
condition a phobia in a young infant named "Albert B." In
2009, Beck, Levinson, and Irons proposed that Little Albert,
as he is now known, was actually an infant named
Douglas Merritte. More recently, Fridlund, Beck, Goldie,
and Irons (2012) claimed that Little Albert (Douglas) was
neurologically impaired at the time of the experiment. They
also alleged that Watson, in a severe breach of ethics,
probably knew of Little Albert's condition when selecting
him for the study and then fraudulently hid this fact in his
published accounts of the case. In this article, we present
the discovery of another individual, Albert Barger, who
appears to match the characteristics of Little Albert better
than Douglas Merritte does. We examine the evidence for
Albert Barger as having been Little Albert and, where
relevant, contrast it with the evidence for Douglas Merritte.
As for the allegations of fraudulent activity by Watson, we
offer comments at the end of this article. We also present
evidence concerning whether Little Albert (Albert Barger)
grew up with the fear of furry animals, as Watson and
Rayner speculated he might.