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Rosalie Rayner

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Rosalie Rayner was a graduate student, mistress and later wife of John B. Watson

In October 1920 Johns Hopkins University asked Watson to leave his faculty position there because of publicity surrounding the affair he was having with his graduate student-assistant Rosalie Rayner and because of his refusal to send her abroad until things had quieted down. At the time, Watson was married to Mary Ickes (sister of politician Harold L. Ickes, who would later become Secretary of the Interior to US President Franklin D. Roosevelt).

Watson's affair had become front-page news during divorce proceedings, and Baltimore newspapers published excerpts from some of Watson's love-letters to Rayner. Mary had feigned illness during a dinner party involving the Rayner and Ickes families so that she could have unfettered access to Rayner's bedroom.

A large body of rumors circulated about Watson's dismissal from Johns Hopkins University, particularly that Watson was fired for conducting research on the human sexual response with Rayner. No evidence for these rumors has publicly surfaced. The stories can be directly traced to fanciful, anachronistic stories about Watson included by the late University of Michigan psychologist James McConnell in several editions of his Understanding Human Behavior textbook, and his Worms and Things newsletter.

Watson and Rayner later married in 1921.

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