Essay on John B. Watson

1420 Words Jul 16th, 2006 6 Pages
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Watson, John B.

Born : 1878 Died : 1958 Nationality : American Occupation : psychologist

RELATED BIOGRAPHIES: • Pavlov, Ivan Petrovich
• Skinner, B. F. (Ethics) RELATED ESSAYS: • Ethics in Advertising and Science
• Rights of Human Research Participants

John Broadus Watson was one of the most controversial leading figures in American psychology. A pioneer in behaviorism, Watson wrote accessible books promoting the behaviorist agenda that garnered considerable public attention. The cornerstone of behaviorist psychology was the view that behavior should be studied as a product of objectively observable external events instead of
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This aspect of his research program got him into the most trouble because it prompted him to begin studying the taboo subject of the physiological responses that occur during sexual intercourse.

Watson took a very personal interest in this research. He hooked up polygraph-like instruments to himself and a graduate student and recorded the data as they made love. Watson's first wife had difficulty crediting his scientific objectivity in this project. She raided the lab and confiscated the data. Even though the recording equipment came to light more than half a century later, the data themselves were never found. This is surely one of the most unusual instances of deliberate suppression of data in the history of science. It also illustrates unethical treatment of a graduate student by a professor. Having a sexual relationship with a student at any academic level is considered inadvisable because of the inevitable conflicts of interest between the professor-student relationship and the sexual one.

During the same period, Watson fell in love with graduate student Rosalie Raynor. He wrote her many torrid love letters a bundle of which were discovered by his wife. This precipitated a messy divorce case during which pieces of the letters were printed in the Baltimore Sun. Watson was forced to resign from Johns Hopkins. He married Rosalie Raynor and never returned to

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