The Essence of Love Between a Mother and a Child

Topics: Harry Harlow, Primate, Monkeys in space Pages: 2 (652 words) Published: July 25, 2008
In 1958 a developmental psychologist, Harry Harlow, began a study to determine what makes an infant love a parent. Harlow wanted to prove that it was possible to “prevent or change” the strength of love formed between the infant and mother by changing the mother’s ability to meet the infant’s needs. Due to the fact that Harlow had used Rhesus monkeys for previous studies and that they are biologically similar to humans, Harlow decided to use Rhesus monkeys again. If Harlow could prove this, he believed he could apply it to a family’s daily life to improve child and parent relationships.

Eight infant Rhesus monkeys were split into two groups, each with a different substitute mother. Each model mother was equipped with a fake breast that supplied warmth with a light bulb and could be nursed from. However, one mother was structured out of wood, rubber and was covered with a soft cloth, while the other was only made of wire. First, the mothers were placed in different cubicles that were connected to the two separate monkey cages. Then, the time the infant monkeys spent with their mothers was monitored for the first five months. To confirm what Harlow had already expected, he performed other tests. The first he tried was to see how the infants would react to a foreign and frightening object. He then tried two other experiments to observe how the two groups of monkeys would adapt to a new environment and how they could survive independently. The results were extreme and undeniable.

After observing the infants’ behavior in great depth Harlow discovered that the monkeys with the cloth mother spent more time with their mom than did the monkeys with the wire mother. Even the monkeys that were nursed by the wire monkey preferred the cloth monkey for comfort. They would only leave the cloth monkey for a brief time to nurse with the wire one, and then they would immediately return. The other experiments showed the same nature of results. Harlow setup a room...
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