Compare and Contrast the Work of Harlow and Skinner

Topics: B. F. Skinner, Operant conditioning, Reinforcement Pages: 4 (1537 words) Published: September 28, 2012
Compare and contrast the approaches of Skinner and Harlow to investigating influences on behaviour.

This essay will cover a wide range of material to identify, compare and contrast the work of Harry Harlow and Burrhus Frederick Skinner. Harlow and Skinner did research and investigated the influences on behaviour; this essay will draw upon both investigations. Further into the essay it will identify some similarities and differences into both researches with a supported argument about the importance and implications of both studies. The essay will then conclude with a conclusion on the findings. Behaviour can be describes in many forms and ways. According to the dictionary ‘Behaviour is the manner in which one behaves, the actions or reactions of a person or animal in response to external or internal stimulation’ ( Harlow was an American Psychologist who investigated the bond of infants to their mother. The reason for this investigation was to see if the bond was due to cupboard love. Cupboard love is what the infant is attached to such as providing of food or something warm and soft to touch. However Bowlby had already said that the bond with the infant to the mother was to do with something other than cupboard love. Bowlby stated ‘an inbuilt tendency to become attached to stimuli that poses certain properties’ (discovering psychology, chapter5, pg201). Harlow who wanted to conduct his study on rats accidentally conducted it on medium sized monkeys known as (Macaca Mulatta). The reason for using this particular type is that they are easy to keep and breed in captivity; they also share 94% DNA to a human. After securing funding for a primate laboratory, Harlow started his work. However when cleaning the cages the infant monkeys would protest, Harlow then went on to find out whether the monkeys were on protest due to ‘contact comfort’. To test the idea of contact comfort Harlow constructed two types of surrogate mothers. One of...
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