Mary Cover Jones (1897 - 1987)
Mary Cover Jones (September 1, 1897 – July 22, 1987) was born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Within psychology, a scientific field dominated throughout much of the 20th century by male scientists, Mary Cover Jones stands out as a pioneer of behavior therapy—Joseph Wolpe dubbed her "the mother of behavior therapy". Mary Cover Jones studied psychology at Vassar College, from which she graduated in 1919, after which she went on to work with noted behaviorist John B. Watson during the 1920s. Jones developed a technique known as desensitization, used to cure phobias. A patient may be desensitized through the repeated introduction of a series of stimuli that approximate the phobia. Her study of the removal a fear of rabbits through conditioning, which she conducted at the Institute of Educational Research, Columbia University Teachers’ College on a three-year-old named Peter, is her most often cited work. Jones treated Peter’s fear of a white rabbit by “direct conditioning,” in which a pleasant stimulus (food) was associated with the rabbit. As the rabbit was gradually brought closer to him in the presence of his favorite food, Peter grew more tolerant, and was able to touch it without fear.
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