John B. Watson's alleged sex research: An appraisal of the evidence

Ludy T. Benjamin, Jodi L. Whitaker, Russell M. Ramsey, Daniel R. Zeve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


In 1974, a story was published about clandestine research done by John B. Watson that was judged to be so reprehensible that it was offered as the real reason he was fired from his faculty position at Johns Hopkins University in 1920, at perhaps the peak of his academic career. Watson's dismissal from Johns Hopkins may have been the most important event in his career, and it almost certainly altered the history of American psychology. Thus, this story has great significance. The claims of the story, however, have never been validated or invalidated. This article examines the evidence for and against the existence of such research and discusses Watson's academic dismissal in light of that evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-139
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2007


  • History of psychology
  • James McConnell
  • John Watson
  • Rosalie Rayner
  • Sex research

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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