Harlow's Animal Study

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  • Harlow's animal studies (1959)
    • Aim
      • 'The Origins of Love'
      • to demonstrate that mother love (attachment) was not based on the feeding bond between mother and infant
    • Procedure
      • Harlow created 2 wire mothers each with a different head
      • 1 mother was wrapped in soft cloth and the other just wire
      • 8 infant rhesus monkeys studied for 165 days
      • for 4 of the monkeys, the milk bottle was on the cloth monkey, for the other the milk bottle was on the wire monkey
      • during this time, they measured the amount of time each infant spent with the 2 different mothers
      • they also observed the infant monkey's responses when they were frightened for for example by a mechanical teddy - what they go to the cloth or wire monkey?
    • Findings
      • all 8 monkeys most of their time with the cloth mother whether or not if had the feeding bottle
      • monkeys who were fed from the wire mother only spent a short amount of time getting milk and would then return to the cloth mother
      • when frightened, all monkeys clung to the cloth mother
      • when playing with new objects, the infant monkeys often kept one foot on the cloth mother for reassurance
    • Conclusion
      • infants do not develop attachment to the person who feeds them but to the person offering contact comfort
    • Evaluation
      • Unethical
        • Untitled
    • Long-lasting effects
      • Harlow continued to study his monkeys as they grew up and found many consequences of their early attachment experiences
      • they developed abnormally even the monkeys who had contact comfort
      • socially abnormal
        • froze/fled when approached by other monkeys
      • sexually abnormal
        • did not show normal mating behaviour and did not cradle their own babies
      • there is a critical period for these effects
        • the motherless monkeys recovered if they spent time with there monkey 'peers' before 3 months old
        • they couldn't recover when being with the wire mother for 6 months


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