.Everyone in America has been affected, or know someone who has been affected, by Watson. Rigidly scheduled feeding, picking up, changing, etc. -- not when they cried.

WATSON'S GRANDDAUGHTER -- MARIETTE HARTLEY. (Actress who had leading roles in a few pictures but never made it big.) Daughter of Watson's first wife Mary Ickes, Wrote the book Breaking the Silence about Watson's life, work, and effects on our culture.

Hartley writes, "I was lying in bed reading a bouch called Touching--feeling very alive, very fresh in my body, having jsut finished nursing my daughter, Justine--and was fully sympathetic with Ashley Montagu's emphasis on the importance of touch. He discussed child-raising theories popular in the twenties--antiseptic theories that greatly influenced psychology, theories that claimed that any show of love or close physical contact made the child too dependent.... [Children were viewed, Montagu went on], as mechanical objects at the mercy of their environment, and parents could make them into anything they wished.

The child's wishes, needs, feelings were treated [by Watson and his approach] as if they did not exist.

Unsound as this thinking is, and damaging as it has been to millions of children, many of whom later grew up into disturbed persons, the behavioristic, mechanistic approach to child-rearing is still largely with us.

The man responsible--wrote Montagu--the man to thank, was "Professor John Broadus Watson of Johns Hopkins University."

I dropped the book and got chills.

John Broadus Watson. My mother's father. Big John. My grandfather."

[Watson's] 1928 book, The Psychological Care of the Infant and Child, was the bestselling "Spock" of his generation--rebutted by Spock in his generation. In it, my grandfather wrote:

Children should be awakened at 6:30 A.M. for orange juice and a pee. Play 'till 7:30. Breakfast should be at 7:30 sharp; at 8:00 they should be placed on the toilet for twenty minutes or less 'til bowel movement is complete. Then follow up with a verbal report. The child would then play indoors 'till 10P00 A.M., after 10:00 outside, a short nap after lunch, then "social play" with others. In the evening a bath, quiet play until bedtime at 8:00 sharp.

(2) He argued that institutions like the Boy Scouts and the YMCA could lead to homosexuality. Girls were even in more danger because they held hands, kissed, and slept in the same bed at pajama parties. "Our whole social fabric is woven so as to make all women slightly homosexual."

In Big John's ideal world, children wer to be taken from mothers duriing their third our fourth week; if not, attachments were bound to develop. He claimed that the reason mothers indulged in baby-loving was sexual. Otherwise, why would they kiss ther children on the lips? He railed against mothers whose excessive affection made the child forever dependent and emotionally unstable. Children should never b kissed, hugged, or allowed to sit on th ir laps. If there has to be kissing, let it b on th forehead. Parents would soon find they could be 'perfectly objective and yet kindly.

My mother's [Watson's daughter's] upbringing was purely intellectual. The only time my mother was "kissed on the forehead" was when she was about twelve and Big John went to war. Althought she was reading the newspaper by the time she was two, there was never any touching, not any at all.

Grandfather's theories infected my mother's life, my life, and the lives of millions.

How do you break a legacy? How do you keep from passing a debilitating inheritance down, generation to g eneration, like a ge netic flaw?



What could have led to such an outlook? Let's look & see.


When James Madison Watson died, he left his small farm which backed onto the Reedy River near Greenville, South Carolina, to his son Pickens Watson, who took over the farm.

In 1868 Pickens Watson, a lively and good-looking man, married Emma K. Roe, a beautiful, strong, intelligent, and extrmely religious woman. John, born in 1978, was their fourth child.

The Watson family was poor. They claimed to have lost their wealth in the civil war. Emma's main interests were her farm, her children, and her religion. She went constantly to th local Baptist church and was one of the main organizers for the Baptists in South Carolina. In the Watson house, both God and the Devil were full-time residents.

Fundamentalist Baptists did not drink, smoke, or danced, but they had long, emotional meetings which sometimes lasted two or three days, and members got up and denounced themselves as wretched sinners. The church emphasized morality and cleanliness. Her children had to be extremely clean.

From this environment, and from the strong mark it left on him, we can imagine that Watson's toilet training must have been a difficult experience. Later in life he was fierce and rigid in arguing that children had to be trained from when they were six months old. Since he never cited any psychological basis for this, it must have come from his own experience. [I can imagine Emma saying, "Untrained bowels are the Devil's helper.]


The Black nurse who worked for Emma told watson that the Devil lurked in the dark and if ever Watson went out walking at night, the Evil One might snatch him and take him to hell. Apparently Emma approved of this. She apparently believed that Satan was always prowling. Watson never got rid of his phobia. As an adult, he sometimes had to sleep with his light on.


The Reedy River Church believed not only in 'strict discipline' but also in mutual spying. Brothers and sisters (as all members of the congregation were called) were asked to report on each

other's sins.

d. PICKENS WATSON was a different kind of man. He loved his wiskey and was a notorious womanizer, and after Watson was born, was sometimes gone for weeks at a time, living in the backwoods with Indians and his two Cherokee "wives."

He taught John how to ride and how to build and fix things and run the farm.

When John was 13 his father left for good, making John B. even more dependent on his mother. John was already a handsome boy, and like his father, had a rough and impulsive side to him. Like his father, he swore a lot, drank a lot, and always drank bourbon whiskey, his father's favorite drink. And like his father, he liked women to much or a decent Baptist. John was so attractive that for much of his life, women were always chasing him; one woman later called him "the handsomest psychologist I ever saw."

e. AFTER HIS FATHER LEFT HOME, AT SCHOOL Watson turned vicious and violent. He was intelligent, lazy, "somewhat insubordinate," mocked teachers, and got low grades. When the teacher left the room, he and a friend Joe Leech would fight until one of them drew blood. On the way home from school they engaged in the charming southern pastime of picking out a black man and beating him up. Watson never got interested in religion.

f. JOHN APPEARS TO HAVE BECOME THE APPLE OF HIS MOTHER'S EYE. After Pickens left, John, who was so much like him, must have reminded her of the attractive qualities of his father. Watson was very close to his mother and dependent on her. We can only imagine what may have happened between them, or perhaps what Watson only fantasized would happen, because of his later vehement insistence that two close an attachment to a parent can make it difficult to make "marital adjustments" later on.


a. Furman University. A Baptist College which had as its main mission turning out Baptist Ministers. Watson had a terrible record at school but knew how to present himself. He visited the President, apparently convinced him that he had reformed, and was admitted. He lived at home, often quarreling with very religious brother Edward who disapproved of him, and did as little Bible study as he could get away with. After two years he got a job in the chemical laboratory, which paid his way from then on. (The college grounds were later sold and the buildings wer e razed to make way for a Piggly Wiggly supermarket and parking lot).

b. In 1895 Watson met Gordon Moore, a philosophy professor and clergyman who became his mentor. He was something of a heretic by Baptist standards; in 1900 he was dismissed from Furman and got a faculty position at the University of Chicago.

Watson took his first psychology course from Moore, apparently a fairly conventional course on the study of consciousness, with an emphasis on thinking and intuition.

c. Teacher at Batesburg Institute. Watson got his M.A. from Furman at age 21. He wanted to go on for a Ph.D., but had to support his mother who had become very ill. So he took a position as t eacher in a nearby one-room school house, a small private school for about 20 children, which his resume later represented as "Principal of the Batesburg Institute." While it's true that he was principal, he was also the janitor.

d. University of Chicago. Was admitted at Chicago to study philosophy with his furman mentor Gordon Moore. He did not care for most of the philosophy he studied at all, nor for the course on Wilhelm Wund's psychology he took. He did enjoy a course Gordon Moore taught on the British Associationists, & especially the philosophy of Hume, who gave him some authority for being skeptical. Of John Dewey, he later said "I never knew what he was talking about and unfortunately I still don't." [My commentary: We don't hear what we don't want to hear. Dewey was much closer to Spock, to encouraging children to find their own directions and grow in them.]

5. Animal experiments. Watson took courses in animal behavior and became interested in the idea of creating experiments to study animals in the laboratory. Began his experiments in November 1901. Was the first to build a rat maze. Built wire box with food in it. Concealed entrances, rats had to find ways to food.

Later, rats had to pull string that sprang a latch that opened door to food.

Later, they had to walk a plank. When they got a distance out, their weight would cause the plank to go down, pulling a spring which opened door to food.

Then a labyrinth with blind alleys. He noted that one rat's record showed how learning developes. One rat's record ran:

12 min., 12 min., 3 min., 8 min., 2 min., 3 min., then .33 min, .33 min, .16 min., .08 min, .108 min. A fundamental discovery: Learning is not an even process: Rather, slow haphazard improvements followed by a sudden solution.

Could have gone on to see how they handled more complex problems. Not his interest. Instead,

1) studied how young he could get rats to solve the mazes,

2) turned to neurology. Killed rats aged from 1 to 30 days and examined the state of their brains at each age. Wanted to link their psychological abilities with the physiological development of their cortex.

6. Beginning of behaviorism: Rats & people. While writing up his dissertation in 1902, he found himself thinking, "If you could understand rats without the convolutions of introspection, could you not understand people the same way?" Felt that no reason not to look at people the same objective way he had done with rats.

Knew this would be heresy & wanted his degree & his adviser's support in getting a position,, so did not mention this in his thesis. His doctoral advisor Angell believed man was a thinking & spiritual being utterly different from rats or any other animal.

Caught in this dilemma, has a breakdown.

When Watson did mention his ideas in 1904, Angel told him he was ignorant, that Watson should stick to animals. When Watson came out publicly with his ideas about what the future of psychology should b e, Angell told him he was crazy.

The psychological journals received his work well. So did the relatively intellectual Nation. But Life, spurred on by anti-vivisectionists, pilloried Watson, criticizing and caracaturing him as a killer of baby rats. [Imagine what today's tabloids would have done with the story: Crazed scientist experiments with rats, then toasts and eats them!]



a. SEXUAL AND FINANCIAL PROBLEMS. A man with considerable sexual needs, hard to satisfy in the chaste atmosphere of the times, he would later recommend "wholesale necking" among students. Fell desperately in love as he had with one of the co-eds at Furman, but unfortunately chose someone who was given to wholesale necking of her own and was very jealous. Contributed to his breakdown.


After recovering from his breakdown, took up on the rebound to Mary Ickes, the baby sister of Harold Ickes who was to become F.D. Roosevelt's Secretary of the Interior and one of the most influential members of his cabinet. Booted out of Northwestern when boys sent a cold beer up to her room, she transferred to the University of Chicago where she studied introductory psychology with the handsome young Dr. Watson. She daydreamed about the dashing professor and didn't do, in her words, a "lick of work." On examination day she realized she knew none of the answers. She doodled in her exam book, then proceede to write a love poem, an ode to John B. Watson. When she reached "his black black hair, brown brown eyes," she heard "Time's up." As he started up the aisle collecting papers, she froze.

"Miss Ickes, your paper please."

"Oh, well, I..."

"What's that in your hand, Miss Ickes."

He reached out his hand. Reluctantly she gave it to him. She had a way with words that engaged him. So John B. Watson began surreptitiously to date his student, Mary Ickes, which was against the rules, society, and God.

Brother Harold got wind of it and sent Mary back home, but when he found out they had already married under fictitio¨s names, he gave a reception instead--although he considered his brother-in-law "a selfish, conceited cad." He wasn't far from wrong. Throughout the secret marriage, the brid groom had continued to see one Vida Sutton, an old flame who had returned to town.

1905, MARY WATSON BORN, later nicknamed, "Polly," during a summer at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, just a little earlier than would be expected from the date of their marriage. Mother of Mariette Hartley.

C. HOW DO RATS LEARN? Watson assumed that it was by one, and only one, of their senses, May seem naive, but there were few studies in the field.

(a) Previous study had been of vision. Hooded birds.

(b) In 1906 Watson began to operate on a group of six-month-old-old rats who had previousl¥ learned the maze.

Made one group blind by removing eyeballs.

One group deaf by removing middle ear.

Took out olfactor bulb of one group to be sure they

could not smell.

Snipped the whiskers off two rats. No effect.

(Admitted that these were cruel operations but took great care to see that the rate recovered properly.

Did not seem to matter which sense they lost. The rats always managed to learn the maze over again.


KINESTHETIC SENSE. HE & HARVEY CARR --IDENTICAL MAZE, HALF AS LARGE, rats that had learned the maze kept running into walls.

It all left him, he wroted to another specialist on animal behavior, sick of rats. "I never want to see another rat go round the maze. But these studies provided the first model of well-controlled research in the field of animal learning.


(1) Watson had become very interested in Animal Behavior. Carried on a regular correspondence with Robert Yerkes, an animal behavior specialist.

(2) Got a summer job at the Carnegie base in Key West, Florida. (To earn extra money to pay a babysitter so he and Mary could go out sometimes.) Near Key West, the Tortugas, where terns came to nest in summer. Watson wanted to do a full account of the way they lived, as ethologists do.

Second, supposed to be expert at homing. No one had previously proven that birds really did home.

(3) brought down 4 monkeys from his lab and released them on the islands. Wrote Yerkes, "I dislike the idea of taking them back and trying to get reliable results in a lab.... When you g t to th monkeys there is a spontaneity which I have never seen in the north."



Accepted offer to take a position at much higher pay in 1908.

a. Shortly after arriving there, took train to see his friend Yerkes in Boston. They hit it off as well as they had by letter. Yerke¥s admired Watson's work with rats but was far more cautious about using the same kinds of observational methods with humans.

b. In early December, after just a few months after arriving, the chair of the department of philosophy, psychology, and education was caught in a position which could not be described as philosophical in a raid in an interracial brothel, and asked by the University to resign. Watson was on his own.

c. BEGAN RESEARCHES IN HUMAN LEARNING. Neurologist Karl Lashley was persuaded to teach a number of people to shoot with bows and arrows. Would they learn their new skill in the same kind of way that rats learned to thead a maze? Watson knew he would cause a furor by investigating such question.

d. LECTURES AT COLUMBIA, February 1913. Marked the public beginning of the new behavioristic psychology. To Yerkes: "I am sending a print of my first lecture. If you don't like it, I hope you will cuss me out." His classic lecture, "Psychology as the Behaviourist Views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of b ehavior. Introspection forms no essential part of its methods... The behaviourist, in his efforts to get a unitary scheme of animal response, recognizes no dividing line between man and brute...."

Thus, behaviorism threateneed to rob psychologists of one of the things they held precious, the intrinsic difference between people and animals. Darwin had told us that we share the same ancestors as the gorilla; now Watson would place us side-by-side with the rat. He seemed to take great delight in this. Perhaps he was still rebelling against all the religion he had heaped on him as a child.

e. 1915. Pavlov won the Nobel Prize in 1904. "The conditioned reflex and its place in psychology." Yerkes & Morgulis' paper on "The Method of Pawlow in Animal Psychology" appeared in an issue of the psychological bulletin edited by Watson. In 1913 Bechterev published his Objective Psychology.

Reading Pavlov and Bechterev got watson interested in conditioned reflexes. Watson distinguished between conditioned secretion (Pavlov's salivating dogs) and conditioned motor reflexes, which he found more interesting.

He and Lashley set out in 1915 to condition humans with a bell (CS) a small electric shock to the foot, (US) and a toe-flexing response. The bell and shock occurred simultaneously. The reflex was not fully reliable but some were conditioned. A subject trained in may and retested in October required only one reminding shock for the reflex to reappear. They carried out a number of experiments, and Watson believed that emotions as well as saliva flows and toe movements could be conditioned.

Applied the reflex action model to all behavior. To cry when you left someone you loved was a "conditioned emotional reflex." Stimulus: the loved one left. Response: the lover cried. And the reflex could be changed.



(1) Mary had been ill, and Watson had been working full time and spending considerable time helping her recover.

(2) Watson wanted behaviorism to be a psychology of real life.

He would take forty children and observe them on a daily basis from birth onwards. Wjould record their movements, their reactions to certain stimuli, and chart their maturation. No one had previously dared experiment with the human infant. He intended to test his ideas on the conditioned emotional reflex and on instincts.... Assume that he found thåt a touch on the toe made the inant coo. Could he condition that child so that other things made him coo too?

(3) Watson argued that many of the so-called symptoms of so-called mental illness were conditioned reflexes in which the conditioning was counterproductive. Psychologists could become social engineers, guiding society "to ways in which the individual could be molded to fit the environment." Was interested by particular psychoanalytic tools like word association tests which could allow one to trace the orgins and precise nature of the twisted habits.

Offered a hypothetical case. The speech defects of a young man point to the "incest complex.": "The faulty and unwise behåvior of a mother has led the boy to react to her in many behaviors as does her husband. [this] disturbs the forming of suitably boyish habits and may bring in its train a vast series of conditioned reflexes which may show themselves in general bodily disturbances. "

Throughout 1916 Watson worked hard at the Phipps. Mary helped occasionally but she was getting more interested in society than in experiments.

By 1917 Watson's infidelities grew more frequent. He was unfaithful and Mary was waiting. Ther marriage became tense and brittle. A womb operation which made Mary less interested in sex did not help. Watson concluded that Mary was "past her prime." He, ov course, was just reaching his.

He recorded a wide variety of reactions of the children.

Watson...tested the sensitivity of infants to loud noises. When there was a loud noise, the baby tended to react by catching its breath, making spasmodic movements of the arms and legs, and closing its hands. Thje behaviorist interpreted these responses as signs of fear. Taking the support awa¥ from a child as if it was being dropped also produced the same responses. . These were, for Watson, the roots of fear. He argued babies were innately terrified of loud noises and losing physical support. Incidentally, Watson took the greatest precautions in these experiments that not the least scratch should come to an infant. When a child was dropped, Watson dropped him into the arms of an assistant who was kneeling in a bed with a pillow on it for the baby to fall on if the clumsy assistant failed to catch it.

Watson argued that James' idea that the task of psychology was to provide an account of the stream of consciousness was mistaken. Rather, it should provide an account of the stream of activity, of how and why people behaved.

Watson tried to set out a list of rules which determine action

1. The lresponse most likely to appear in a situation is that most recently called out by the situation.

2. if recency is not a factor, the act which has been most frequently connected with the object is most likely to appear.

3. The act called out is likely to be one most closely connected with the general setting of the situation as a whole. (Person has to know what situation he or she is in to know what behavior to put on.)

4. Fourth determiner is the state of the organism.

5. Fifth factor is the previous history of the individual.

1919: Most actions "are really consolidations of instinct and habit." But anything that is not instinctive "must be looked upon as a habit." Watson's conviction: A few things are instinctive, but virtually anything can be taught. Give me twenty healthy children...

Psychologists could become social engineers, guiding society "to ways in which the individual may be molded to fit the environment."--

-- Society can employ psychology to retrain those of its members who did not conform to civilised standards. The criminal, the laz¥, the drifters, and even the mentally ill could be turned into useful members of society. It would not be left up to them to choose that. And those few criminals whose nervous systems were so askew that they could not be conditioned into decent members of society ought to be "etherized."

Watson often criticized society's hypocrisy, but many of its standards seemed so obvious to him that h´saw no need to discuss the political issues that such drastic social controls might raise. (How about his deviant behavior when he was in high school? Should he have been "reconditioned?")

THE CELEBRATED RYE WHISKEY STUDY. Watson convinced th e President of Johns Hopkins to get him ten gallons of rye whiskey for a study of the effects of alcohol on performance.


6. ROSALIE RAYNER. Autumn 1919, new graduate student came to study under Watson

at Phipps clinic. From a rich & distinguished family, just graduated from Vassar. Niece of Senator Rayner who conducted the hearings on the sinking of the Titanic.When she met Watson, he was 42, she was just 19 years old. Beautiful and lively. Long oval face, blue eyes and brown hair, clever and funny. Fell in love with her handsome and impressive professor, and he with her.

a. Tensions between Watson & Mary --mostly under the surface.

Mary's daughter Polly recalls that if her parents quarrelled, it was only when they were alone. Mary was frightened that Watson might leave her, and Watson had endured enough quarrels between Pickens and Emma to know how bad they were for children.

b. The "Little Albert" experiment. First experiment, white rat. Subsequent ones, a rabbit, a dog, a fur coat, and cotton wool. Showed that emotional reactions could be conditioned by external stimuli, the abrupt sound of a gong.

c. The sex machine.

d. Affair became more public. Rosalie had a beautiful car, a Stutz Bearcat, that drew all eyes. Drove to lunch in it daily. Prim & conservative Baltimore began to talk. By the start of 1920 Big John & Rosalie were sometimes slipping away for illicit weekends in New York.

e. Mary, thinking this would go the way of Big John's earlier affairs, invited her husband's lab assistant and her parents to dinner. Also started rifling John's clothes. One day found love letter from Rosalie. The families began to spend frequent evenings visiting each other.

One night when Mary was gone to new York, Big John's Psychiatrist friend Leslie Holman stayed at the house. He and Big John used the twin beds in the master bedroom and talked, Watson telling him that he loved Rosalie and had been spending weekends in New York with her, that he planned to send his family to Switzerland; and that after two years he could get a divorce on the grounds of desertion, protecting his job at the university.

Polly was 14, only 5 years younger than Rosalie. She had been oblivious to the family tension. She warned her mother and was so shaken that she dropped out of school.

Next visit to Rayner drawing room for coffee --feigned headache & said needed to lie down. Headed sraight for Rosalie's bedroom, locked door, and started to search. Found fourteen love letters in her bureau. Pocketed the letters, went back to the drawing room, and pretended that nothing had happened.

To Rosalie mine: I have been an awful sinner, I know.... Promise me your heart and body will still be mine.... Every cell I have is yours, individually and collectively. I can't be any more yours than if a surgical operation made us one.... [I wish we could go] to the North Pole where the days and nights are six months long, [He implied that this would allow record-breaking kissing.] Everything will be lovely and we ought to play safe. Still, play we will.... My total reactiions are positive toward you. So, likewise, each and every heart reaction."

Mary's ne'er-do-well brother John Ickes made photocopies. Was sure she could persuade John to come back. Confronted Big John & the Rayners. Suggested Rosalie be send on a tour of Europe until it all blew over. Albert Rayner agreed, Rosalie refused. Her father threatened to disinherit her. She still refused. Watson & Mary separated in 1920.

In late September one of the love letters landed in the "in" tray of the President of Johns Hopkins and even though he had been given an enormous raise just a few months before, Big John was promptly sacked. Hoping to keep Rosalie's name out of papers, John agreed to Mary's terms of divorce. Mary got everything they owned and John was left with nothing but debts. He thought the settlement had bought silence, but headlines naming Rosalie came out on Nov. 27, three days after the divorce. General agreement that John Ickes must have spilled the beans to cash in. And as soon as the Rayners' name was mentioned in public print, Mary gave a long interview to the New York Herald. (Within 18 months Mary remarried and lived to the ripe old age of 88.)

The divorce came through Decemb r 24, 1920 & Big John married "his Rosalie" ten days later. Great love of his life.

The following June Polly left school. Had lost interest in school, friends, and life. Never went on to 10th grade.


Pres. of Johns Hopkins rebuffed Watson's request for an arrangement whereby Watson could still do some research; & all the psychologists Watson knew wanted to forget him. Titchener was one of the few who maintained a friendship. Wrote him a letter of recommendation to Stanley Resor at J. Walter Thompson advertising agency . In 1922 Watson wrote, "I know, in my heart, that I owe your more than almost all my other colleagues put together."

Resor hired watson for the then princely salary of $10,000 per year. Started in the trenches.

-- Rubber boot survey in South. Asked people, what boots did they buy, and why? Found himself "very green and shy."

--Sell coffee to grocers, trying to persuade grocers in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Erie to stock more Yuban because J. Walter Thompson was just starting a campaign for the brand. Walked and took buses --Watson could not drive. Began to view the knocks of a salesman's life as something he could learn from.

--Macy's. Two months selling Yuban in Macy's basement, to learn about the consumer. (Before Macy's accepted him, he had to take a psychological test in which, ne noted wryly, he did not too well. Watson didn't have much faith in tests.) He began to notice that items placed near the cash register sold briskly, that customers bought on "impulse." Watson saw that activation was as important as motivation in selling.

--Testing smokers blindfolded, found that only 2 out of 20 could tell the difference between their brand and others. Originated the concepts of "brand loyalty" . With cigarettes, Watson discovereed that people were buying an atmosphere, an idea. For many products, the emotions and associations that went with it were crucial.

Also "timed obsolescence." (Style is what makes everything obsolete even though it's still usable.)

Market research: Finding out what people want rather than trying to sell them on things they have resistance to. What characteristics should it have? Actually try out competitive products to show up their weaknesses.

Set his stamp on a number of historic campaigns. Camels, Johnson's Baby Powder (product clean, pure, hygenic, fought disease. mother: loving, responsible). Moved it from a middle- & upper class product --took aim at working mother. Completely different from telling public that Ponds Extract cured everything from sore feet to dysentery. Life insurance. Became vice president of J. Walter Thompson in three years.

Resor was a central figure in advertising. Before 1920 his speeches at advertising conferences contained almost nothing about psychology or the laws of human behavior. By 1924: [The key to advertising ] is in the...more effective use of the laws which govern human behavior.... The actions of the human being en masse are just as subject to laws as the physical materials used in manufacturing.

Watson was shifging the focus of American advertising. Provide the right stimulus and he will oblige with the right response.


a. Missed academic terribly. With out a laboratory, again turned to observing and conditioning his own children.

b. Had two boys, Billy in 1921 & Jimmy in 1923. At 3 months, Watson tried to condition his son's bowel movements. Despondently Rosalie wrote in Feb: "I thought I had succeeded in conditioning bowels to move but it was a false observation." Billy was constipated and had to have laxatives, but still made to "try every morning at the same time." 2 1/2, Billy crowded in whenever John embraced Rosalie.

By the time Billy was born, Watson had started to believe that scientific evidence showed that children should get very little hugging and kissing. Freud had shown that many infants were hopelessly fixated on either mother or father. That must be why.

Watson & Rosalie were happy & affectionate and he was completely faithul to her.

Watson observed development, movements, etc. Watson experimented on himself, his wife, and his children in ways which neither Freud nor Piaget ever dared, or at least dared admit. At 4 months, Billy "was beginning to show sensitivity of erogenous zones." Cooed or cried in the bath when foreskin pushed back and smiled when he was stroked.

Big John and Rosalie went on living their own lives. Children expected to be very polite to their parents. Rarely ate together as a family. Rosalie thought there was some danger that their sons were not enough part of their lives. Treated their children as young adults and expected the same in return.

Watson above all wanted his children to be independent.

Rosalie was always a little guilty because she was "not the perfect behavioristic wife." Was "still too much on the side of the children." Could not resist kissing and hugging them sometimes.

c. By age 3 Jimmy was having recurrent stomach pains. Did this stop Big John? No. Went on to tell all America how to bring up children.


9. MARY COVER JONES & THE BEGINNING OF BEHAVIOR THERAPY. Jones was a friend of Rosalie's from Vasser. Eventually got Rockefeller Foundation support. Worked weekends and evenings with Jones, who did most of the actual work.

Central question: (1)How could children be cured of particular fears?

Also, (2) Naturalistic observations of how children behaved in a normal day.

With the fears: Control conditions:

a. Thirty cases of simply removing children from the feared object (like Rabbit) and having no such objects present for two weeks. No effect. It was not enough to do nothing. Fears did not disappear by themselves.

b. Talking a child out of its fears. Another rabit case: They read her Beatrix Potter stories; they explained that rabits were nice creatures; got her to make Plasticine rabbites; they managed to get her to say that she liked rabbits and was not frightened of them. But next time she saw rabbit, she jumped up, screamed, and stopped playing. So much for words and positive thinking.

c. Social pressure: Boy called "fraidy cat" when showed self afraid of frongs.

Deconditioning: Only worked on children who were already afraid.

Peter: Dog and other animal fears. "Direct-un-conditioning."

"We secured permission to give him his mid-afternoon snack. Crackers and milk. Lunch served in room 40 feet long. Just as he began to eat, rabbit displayed in a wire mesh cage. We displayed it far enough away not to disturb eating.

Gradually rabbit brought closer and closer. Eventually, rabbit could be paced on table by Peter and finally Peter would eat with one hand and play with the rabbit with the other.

Watson noted that they did not know circumstances in which Peter's fears first arose. If they had, might have been able to spot "primary fear" and how this had been "transferred" to other objects. Thought this knowledge would be centrally important.

When his son Billy developed a phobia of goldfish, Watson successfully treated it in similar fashion. Unsuccessful with nail-biting.


a. Bought 40 acres in connecticut and had a beautiful estate built of fieldstone. With his sons built a 31 x 71 foot barn with a vaulted gothic room which for years, pilots of American Airlines used as a landmark.

Motorized trolley which wheeled hamburgers into giant outdoor barbecue.

b. Big John & Mary's daughter Polly visited Rosalie there and they became close friends. "They played tennis together, swam together, flirted with the same men."

c. 1936. Rosalie got Diahhrea and died.



a. 1957 -- APA awarded Watson it highest order, the gold medal for distinguished lifetime contribution to psychology. Didn't go to the convention in person, but sent Billy to accept it on his behalf.

b. Drank more and harder. Died in 1958 of chirrosis of the liver.

c. Billy became a respected, successful psychiatrist in New York. Became Freudian and turned against his father's behaviorism. His first suicide attempt was stopped by younger brother Jimmy. Second attempt, in mid-30s, was successful.

d. Watson & Mary's son Little John was "a rather rootless person who often sponged on his father." Plagued throughout life with stomach trouble and intolerable headaches. Died in his early 50s of bleeding ulcers.

e. Jimmy also had chronic stomach problems for years, but after intensive analysis is alive and doing well.

f. John & Mary's daughter Polly attempted suicide over and over and over and over.

g. Grandaughter Mariette: "We couldn't talk about feelings, we couldn't talk about affection, we couldn't talk about touching, but we could talk about sex. (Big John's influence was keenly felt.) Years later, when I was crossing a congested boulevard in Los Angeles, I took Mom's hand, but she pulled it away. "Don't. People will think we're lesbians." Went through therapy and appears from her biography to be living a reasonbly successful, healthy life.

I was twenty-six before I knew what anger was. Like Dad, I kept turning it on myself. I did everything not to get angry, including marrying a husband who beat me up. There are various kinds of suicide.



Cohen, David. J.B. Watson: The Founder of Behaviourism. London, Boston & Henley: Routledge & Kegan Paul

Hartley, Mariette and Anne Commire. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1990.

Numerous other sources including articles by Watson and a variety of textbooks on the history of psychology.