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J. Behav. Ther. & Exp. Psychiat. Vol. 6, pp. 181-187. Pergamon Press, 1975. Printed in Great Britain.

A 1924 PIONEER LOOKS AT BEHAVIOR THERAPY*
MARY COVER JONES'I"
Institute of Human Development, University of California, Berkeley

THE CITY of Philadelphia is about to com- outcome of this event which led to my pro-
memorate the 200th anniversary of the founding fessional association with John Watson 5 yr
of our country. We are here to observe 50 yr of later. Our weekends away from the campus
behavior modification therapy. It is appropriate were limited by edict, but postwar New York,
for us to review the spirit of the times when the only 2 hr away by train, was an exciting place.
basic theoretical model for this movement It was on one of these weekends in 1919, the
germinated. It was in 1913 that John B. Watson, spring of my senior year, that instead of the
the founder of behaviorism, published in the usual theater outing, a friend steered me to
Psychological Review what Woodworth termed Watson's lecture and films reporting his work
"the Behaviorist Manifesto". The same year with infants. He told us that infants at birth
Watson's Psychology from the Standpoint o f a could respond with three basic emotions fear,
Behaviorist appeared. Art article in the Scientific rage, and love--which were called out by
Monthly, coauthored in 1921 by Watson and his specific but limited stimuli. More elaborate
wife, Rosalie Rayner Watson, first described his emotional responses were learned by association
observations and experiments with children. or conditioning. Watson had chosen 11-month-
What was going on outside the psychological old Albert, "a child with a stolid and phlegmatic
laboratory at this time? Henry Ford put in his disposition" as the subject o f a conditioning
first assembly line for the model T in 1913. experiment which demonstrated his thesis. As is
World W a r I broke out in Europe in 1914. In well known to you, a loud sound which called
1917 the United States joined what Woodrow out the fear response was coupled with Albert's
Wilson termed the crusade to make the world positive response of reaching interestedly for the
safe for democracy. Young women rejected white rat of which he showed no fear. After
corsets, shortened their skirts, shingled their several associations of the startling sound with
hair, smoked cigarettes, joined men in mixed- the presentation of the rat, Albert not only
group drinking at speakeasies, were frank about withdrew in fright from the rat but this negative
their petting, and advocated more tolerance reaction to the rat eventually persisted without
toward divorce (Allen, 1952). Their mothers reinforcement of the loud sound. So far as we
worried about the Freudian influence. know, this was the first laboratory attempt to
condition an emotion in a child. Transference
has also occurred: to a white rabbit, to other
THE THERAPEUTIC EXPERIMENTS ON furry objects, even to a Santa Claus mask with
C H I L D R E N ' S FEARS: W A T S O N ' S R O L E a white fuzzy beard!
I entered Vassar College in 1915 and, although The possibility of using the learning approach
I had no way of knowing it at the time, it was an in the modification of behavior appealed to me.
*This paper is a somewhat shortened version of the keynote address delivered at the 1st Temple University Conference
in Behavior Therapy and Behavior Modification, 14-17 November 1974, Philadelphia, Pa. The conference title w a s
Behavior Therapy--50 Years of Progress.
j'Requests for reprints should be addressed to Mary Cover Jones, University of California, Institute of Human
Development, 1203 Tolman Hall, Berkeley, California 94720.

181

who figured guarantees!) The patient. Walter Thompson Advertising Fifth Avenue over the door of which was the Company in New York City. My concurrent work.D. which he began to construct as Children (Jones. and final freedom from his Watson suggested that for my Ph. but it carried no student and assistant of Watson's. If there the more eager to see whether they could be is any value in having me here today. The study of behavior was not only to be Study of Fear: The Case of Peter (Jones. 1900. He first asked the question: tests on 24 children published in 1925. as did l. Darwin. An admirable sentiment. His psychological background had from well-baby clinics in New York City with been enriched with work in biology and in those of baby biographers--from Pestalozzi in medicine. 1926). This research culminated in Watson's position on theoretical aspects of The Development of Behavior Patterns in Young behaviorism. by what methods". torrents of angry criticism. Watson wrote in Behaviorism (1924. 1959). subjects to introspect?" In 1913 his "Behaviorist under Watson's supervision. (This was the Hecksher Building on with the J. after his "sensationally pub.182 MARY COVER JONES If fears could be built in by conditioning. the second wife. "l am not impressed with a remember the excitement with which we doc. progress. could they not also one of my students who commented in regard be removed by similar procedures? I well to a case history. had been a Vassar classmate and staking procedures used in the experiments with friend of mine. It pointed the way from With reference to the treatment of Peter. armchair psychology to action and sold Be. evaporates Saturday afternoons throughout the conduct of when the fortuitous causes of one's destiny are the therapeutic experiments with Peter. in which I compared my early as 1904 at the age of 26. and Shinn. I was at Columbia.D disser. illustrate how events may shape lives and how Watson paid us a professional visit on many one's dignity. had left carried on. fear. 1877. Titchener. On the other hand. to Gesell's Adolph Meyer. a ness". meticulous. was less carefully measures based on data for over 300 children formulated. inscription. it is to broken down and if so. The revealed. in the Skinnerian sense. who faithfully followed Peter's John Watson. haviorism to us. world. 1924a. tation I extend his observations of infants' developmental activities to a larger and more representative sample in order to provide WATSON'S T H E O R E T I C A L POSITION normative data. 132). psychology. Many of " C a n ' t I find out by watching (their) behavior these behaviors have continued to figure in everything that other students find out by asking developmental schedules. experiments occurred in a natural setting. "Finding that emotional responses could be I believe I was the last graduate student built in with great readiness (Albert) we were all fortunate enough to work with Watson. Watson. reported in The Manifesto" (Woodworth 1959) burst upon the Elimination of Children's Fears and A Laboratoo. Peter lived in the institution where the study was licized divorce" (Woodworth. with my husband and Johns Hopkins University and was associated daughter. It was through our association Peter reflected the methodological style of John that I met and had the opportunity to work with B. a case study does toral candidates at Columbia greeted Watson's provide the opportunity to try out a principle in textbook. "The Children's H o m e for Happi- Rosalie Ranyer Watson. N of one". reverses. Jennings and 1784. This and later statements provoked thesis because of the limited number of cases. since John Watson. a classical . Behaviorist (1919). Psychology fi'om the Standpoint of a a new way. free from the domination ol consciousness but 1924b) was not considered by my Columbia was to take entire possessi~ n of the field of doctoral committee to be suitable for a Ph. as They shared the opinion recently expressed by Watson had demonstrated. especially with Loeb. pain- in the divorce. p.

forgotten (Skinner. Had Watson continued his psychological Titchener's psychology. and went on in the light of more complex aspects of human to state that this was "perhaps one reason why development and functioning which were coming my introduction in Yerkes' course to Watson's to his attention in our studies." Titchener considered a paper of show timidity or fear of the unexpected and Watson's in the Psychological Review (Watson. . 2). when he expected a traumatic In spite of Titchener's objections to Watson's response like that of Albert. vi)." words: "At 9 yr of age ! was handling tools. led to boring and sterile experiments. a Southerner with persuasive strictly experimental observation concerning the manner. Watson. no one of Chicago I wired the lab with my own hands. courses using his manual at Vassar under more mellow." mena of consciousness and affirmed the validity of the biological science of behavior for man and animals well before the spread of that psychological 'Behaviorism' which Watson claimed as uniquely American and J O H N B. research (Skinner." a loud noise. "At the University of self-observation. ambitious. (Hull. His brilliant glimpse of the need for. alone in a strange theories he very fairly described the positive side situation. am the Arch-Behaviorist (Watson and of the vital determinants of the form and substance of modern psychology. Watson reminisced about his boyhood in these 382). a science of behavior was all but of asking us to exchange a science for a tech. 1928). 2). Watson as a puerile exaggerations (Hirsch. and for a coldly detached theory of child care. "I. However. 271). and the nature and in a 1914 paper as "crude" and accused Watson implications of. At 12 I was a son's theoretical platform in these words: pretty fair carpenter. 1928). 1973. Skinner summarized the weaknesses in Wat. doctoral dissertation in 1902 was "the first able. conditioned motor r e f l e x . self-assured. p." Actually. This manual skill has never "And so it came about that Watson was to be lost its charm. A 1924 PIONEER LOOKS AT BEHAVIOR THERAPY 183 psychologist. Twitmeyer. W A T S O N ." nology (Larson and Sullivan. p. 1965). (Jones and Jones. observations (he left Hopkins and academia at ness. 1934. p. . John B. Henry Murray labelled him "charis- work of an American. He saw my own behaviorism came as a tremendous stimulus and daughter in our home placidly playing through relief. 1965). milking cows. Watson might have built upon the person. for an extreme environmentalism. whose work has been one Watson. he readily carried the role of innovator. and his writings have been the 1958 wrote: point of departure for continuing lines of fruitful "I had renounced the subject study of the pheno. 326) reported similar reactions. vigorously attacked behaviorism which was a necessary part of his original program. The conclusions based on obser- set forth by Watson as "the working out of vations published by Harold Jones and myself in general and specific methods for the regulation 1928 could have been h i s I t h a t children tend to of behavior. saying. ian Behaviorism by quoting the American McDougall contrasted Watsonian Behaviorism Psychological Association's 1957 citation: with Sane Behaviorism. whose matic" and that he was ! Handsome. to cope with a strange or sudden experience Another kind of objection to Watson's flam." The Frenchman Pieron in psychological thought. 1959. Tolman (1952. p.T H E MAN about which the only thing unique was his often Now let us look at John B." And psychologists alike for a too narrow interpretation of in the same exulting vein. 1959. a science of conscious. simplification of his concept of native disposition p. . (In my early thirties) l built a remembered for a long time by both laymen and 10-room house from blue prints (p. rather than "To Dr. I am sure that his theoretical can well attest from my exposure to laboratory position would have become more dynamic. He initiated a revolution in McDougall.. unusual and that fears develop when the indi- 1924) to be "one of the most important of the vidual knows enough to recognize his inadequacy year" (Larson and Sullivan. boyant statements came from those who resented It is fitting to close this evaluation of Watson- his being credited with a new and unique theory. He would have modified an over- Margaret Floy Washburn. as I the age of 41). half-soling shoes.

" He received his degree magna cure him to become any type of specialist I might laude " . Those years made labelled him "a one-tracted. me a dozen healthy infants. you just had more courage than 1 schooling are mostly negative. Behaviorism. even beggarman and thief. being on our advisory council. recollections of his early exclaimed. " a dear old lady. abilities. He refers to the latter as a book " I feel learn that it can be just as thrilling to watch the sorry about. Myrtle who said. merchant-chief. tendencies. regardless of He stayed on at Chicago to teach and do his talents." One reason for the distress which mothers expressed was "Once our Normal Child Development Study was off to a good start. but so have the career in advertising. and the standards of Madison Avenue were domin. p. doing it for many thousands of years". such as Dewey." Watson had some characteristics which served And later (of Furnam University). Watson continued: " I am going Hopkins he moved to New York City and a beyond my facts and I admit it. research until in 1908 he was invited to Johns vocations and race of his ancestors (1924. select--doctor. He wrote. " I enjoyed these years. never let them sit on your lap." extreme positions from which he never escaped At last. 1974). ant. had brought him back just a have few pleasant memories of these years. 'Girl. kiss them once on the forehead Although Watson had long since been in adverstising. . laziness and a prolongation of infancy son's taste for and skill in polemics led him into with a killing of vocational bents (p. put his arm around my shoulder and On the other hand.D. "Thank God. (p. In the eyes of Watson's advocates of the contrary and they have been detractors this was a predictable sequitur. p. made me feel that college leads to Skinner more understandingly explains: " W a t - softness. Hopkins as a professor. I was wee tiny bit into the area of infant research. animal yards and much apparatus Watson was the pioneer in infant research. 280). 274). artist. After 11 yr of what he p." watch the learning curve of animals or men This is the book for which generations of mothers." lazy. 1924. 1936. p. When he first saw my films of swimming newborns. penchants. Dr. After all. publicist". including my own. he jumped (Watson. p." As an example we have Watson's Chicago was a highly rewarding educational oft-quoted environmentalistic hyperbole: "Give experience." Watson himself wrote in his autobiography: " I began to to us. when they say good night. 1). timely. Tilney to invite John Watson. 69)." out of his chair. my children are grown McGraw of the famous Johnny and Jimmy twin and that I had a chance to enjoy them before I study wrote to me of her contacts with Watson: met you (Watson. This statement sounds less flamboyant considered to be fruitful associations at Johns if put in context. Shake hands with . turned out at that institution [Chicago] (p. I never made above a passing grade. 273). I f you must. 279). 275). have flayed Watson. . Woodworth. Murray college life interested me . . me bitter. "Little of my his empirical behaviorism less well. . well formed and my worked night and day and established work own specific world to bring them up in and I'll habits that have persisted the rest of my life guarantee to take any-one at random and train (p. 1928. 82)". . 1970. at the time the youngest Ph. 26). He says. Thorndike and others. Tilney set about appointing an Watson's advice: "Never hug and kiss them advisory council to our research including notables (your children)." recent article of mine (Jones. 272). p." But his old interests endured." and yes. " I had' ! It was probably a soft spot in his heart that. In response to a He himself quotes one parent. because I did not know enough to growth of a sales curve of a new product as to write the book I wanted to write (1936. "Given Watson's commitment to pecuniary In his autobiography Watson was apologetic standards. lawyer. and so far as I know. somewhat insubordinate. Psychological Care of Infant and Child. I asked Dr. Consciousness has no place in such a body But his willingness to acknowledge errors is an admirable quality which should recommend him of thought (Seligman. 1928. graduate work at the University of (1959.184 MARY COVER JONES built partitions. it was inevitable that behaviorism about two books which were published after he should be most useful for an outlook in which left the academic field.

Within certain limits set by capacity and interest. I made this personal because. virility of the psychoanalytic movement since namely its responsiveness to outer pressures or Freud's influence is no longer felt. . A 1924 PIONEER LOOKS AT BEHAVIOR THERAPY 185 them in the morning (1928. He would not co-author my papers Jones. It is difficult opportunities rather than to inner needs . 1959. . pp. 81-82). 1948). his name was well known. ." "Personally. wanted me to have all the recognition. 582)." eclipse. But as Boring has said. he pointed out to me that in my and the general views of objectivity." son's in Murchison's Volume 3. biography. I recall the tunity to align myself with innovators in the semi-fanatical ardor with which at the time some young people. we should what the occasion seemed to demand. 266): "I have recorded my interest in behaviorism when Watson's vigorous beginning as a psychologist in detail because it impetus was ended. as he said. pp. Wolpe has asked me to "reflect on some haviorism (Skinner. (1947). Marriage." Aspects of this technicalities of the state of the science of zeal that were negative were noted by Hull behaviorism in 1924 and the reasons for the (1952. p. pattern. 153-4): doldrums of the ensuing quarter of a century. says this of his Woodworth (1959) notes the decline of life history (1936. p. I felt very un- professional career I had neglected an oppor.' This ning in relation to a possibly developing field of attitude on the part of some precipitated equally therapy. 1). and an association with a longitudinal Watson was generous in giving credit to project directed by my husband. a move across the Murray (1960) speaks for many scientists. associations have weighted their careers. is the inadequacies and fallacies of the lower plane my modest career has followed this initial doctrine. to keep any issue at fever heat. Harold E. others. Some followers of Freud illustrates what is perhaps the most general fact have expressed disappointment in the lessened about my entire career as a psychologist later. determined my path. have exhibited single-tracted A discussant of Kohler's Gestalt Psychology motivation in pursuit of their professional goals." On a admit. 'Behaviorism has made a I did not see the significance of my small begin. I have discussed the book Behaviorism he writes: "While I spent tremendous impact of Watsonian behaviorism considerable time as consultant and helped plan in the twenties. 1950. . which immediately precedes Wat. because with such statements as. As Skinner has written about Watson: " F r o m all this exceptional stimulation which he BEHAVIORISM IN T H E SECOND received (as a graduate student and young Q U A R T E R OF T H E T W E N T I E T H instructor) Watson emerged with a burning CENTURY recognition of the need for a science of be- Dr. Mrs. He trepidation in approaching tonight's assignment." as his protagonists of the experiments and wrote up all of the results view it. Why was this? Primarily." like Watson. certain about many of his dogmatic claims. pointed out that one-third of the book others have found that personal events and was devoted to attacking Watson (Welch. p. while I inclined to be sympathetic with Watson's views concerning the futility of introspection Once before. Mary Cover Jones conducted all this early "breakthrough. A further reason for the eclipse of Watson's I did in those early years and have done since behaviorism in the 1930's and 1940's. "There would probably For example. digression in order to acquaint you with my while I still had my reputation to make. 1952. Thorndike (whose influence on have been no school of Behaviorism had there Behaviorism Eysenck and Beech (1971) say has not been in someone a positive faith strong not been sufficiently recognized) in his auto." continent. is responsible for some of the later (1924a. while some of the great. p. 153-154). violent opposing claims (Hull. children. Perhaps the sensationalism of the work. greater contribution to science than has been produced by psychology in its entire previous history. 132). p. In his Now to the doldrums. These have been discussed. including a few relatively ignorant field of behavior therapy and with disciples of undergraduates would espouse the Watsonian cause behaviorism. enough to warrant exaggeration (Boring. And secondly.

1967). With some of our ideas (1960. Guthrie. 247). an im.186 MARY COVER JONES therapists and laymen when he summarizes the child. I welcome this oppor- behavior therapy. of offered to explain the doldrums in this move. of motivation. Others see behaviorism members as they grew from children to adults as being concerned only with prediction and now in their 50's. 1970). should have been so Now I would be less satisfied to treat the fears slow to recommend itself to therapeutic appli. family. vations. Again to quote Murray: did not have so extensive an association with "Watson failed to stem the tide of Freudian little Peter of the fear study. or combination of several. psychology must serve as a foundation of him as a tantilizingly complex person with for reaching out into human life (1920. to keep its standards high. and its future bright. a frightening threat as we studied these lives in progress. growth and change. with still others we regulating life style are some of the reasons have considered the processes of learning. were here needing help. yes. tudinal research in which I have watched the tion of subjective experience as "eccentric psychobiological development of our study foibles" (Murray. These men have aware of our positions in time and space provided a more sophisticated basis for the (Macfarlane. most likely to continued to contribute through the next 30 yr. Harper Brothers. the psychodynamic patterns. a student of Watson's." staff members at our institute we have looked at The loss of the founder's leadership. or of anyone else without a later cation. with others. and if Peter. its effectiveness "Probably. p. Lashley." unique potentials for stability and change. Skinner. tunity to acknowledge with gratitude our I was recently asked whether." provided John Watson were humane. benefit the individual. upon mature theoretical position. came Hebb. perception. perience. 40 yr thereafter. even in the field of physics there is no privileged Spence. and one so enthusias. but that there is a responsibility to be Mowrer. the frightened New York. Harold Jones. association with this study has broadened and able that a practical psychology. L. 6). It is my one regret that 1 especially that of Freud. of rate of physical maturing. But my last 45 yr have been spent in longi- stine". For Watson said. here to incite me. have provided information on somatic. we need not see the early years would require a receptive attitude toward following Watson as unproductive in terms of various treatment methods in order to select the scientific inquiry. to mention just a few. It is up to his followers who are present background of experience. p. I think of what we have learned control. behaviorism left by Watson. self. 140). "soulless". Later. to many. "mechanistic". (1952) The Big Change. of cognition. if my husband. Hunter. "phili. tically welcomed at the time. as well as a sounder Behaviorism has come a long way since the underpinning for the practical application of days of John B. movement as "shallow". as Watson deepened my conception of the human ex- meant behaviorism to be. attitudinal and behavioral other developing psychologies at that time. or alternate forms of therapy. Einstein warned us that By the 1930's we had Hull. were here to help with REFERENCES interpretations as he did in the early 20's and for ALLEN F. the latter. . Watson. My answer would be. environ- Yet another negative influence may have been mental. if I were to begin indebtedness to this impressive figure in Ameri- my psychological career over again. one. and views Watson's repudia. Neal Miller. and others to enrich behavior position from which to make scientific obser- theory. of a 3-yr-old. as he did 50 yr ago. Tolman. the appeal of the effects of the impinging behavior setting. My ment in the 30's and 40's. This However. but with my can psychology. an optimistic. "to have a right to follow-up and in isolation from an appreciation existence. Participants (Seligman. I would devoted to its practical application in therapy repeat my 1924 research. It does seem remark. p. 1971.

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