Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Harry Harlow Rhesus Monkeys
In this study, Harlow used two groups of baby rhesus monkeys that were removed from their mothers. They were put into individual cages, each one containing both a terrycloth mother and a wire mother. One group had a wire mother that provided milk and a terrycloth mother did not, the other group had the reverse. Harlow found that the monkeys clung to the terrycloth mother whether or not in provided them with food. This shows the need for comfort when a baby is developing, having either a mother or father figure that they can find comfort with is healthy.
The study also showed that monkeys fed by both wire and terrycloth mothers gained the same amount of weight. But, those with wire mothers had trouble digesting the milk and suffered from diarrhea more frequently. Harlow explained this result as an lack of comfort that caused psychological stress on the monkeys.
This proves that love and comfort are vital to childhood development. Deprivation can lead to long term issues including profound psychological stress, emotional distress, and could even lead to death. Once the vital stage from birth to six months comes and goes, and there is no comfort present, the problems associated are nearly impossible to fix even if comfort is presented later on. This same type of development is showed in humans as well. Like rhesus monkeys, young children are attached to their mother or care giver. The only way these infants will go out and discover the world is if they have the support and comfort from these figures. For this reason, comfort is essential to the development of infants, because only with this support can children venture on their own to develop their fine and gross motor skills.