Attachment theory and Rhesus Monkeys

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harlow-monkey.jpgAttachment theory can be defined by almost any lasting psychological relationship with another human being. The first attachment made in life is often to a care giver figure or parent. This bond is formed when another human responds and socially engages with the infant for long periods of time to the point where the infant forms a bond with them. This first bond is crucial to the infant as a basis for other relationships formed throughout their lives. The initial bond has been observed to be of many uses to a young infant, such as when they become mobile for the first times, they use these attachment figures as a safety net for them, always beginning and ending on them.
In this article, there is a brief analysis of a series of experiments done by a man named Harlow on rhesus monkeys and separation anxiety. New born monkeys were tested to see the effects that early attachments had on monkeys. Some were given no form of any attachment figure, while some were given "mothers" made of cloth and wire. The monkeys became attached to these mothers because the mothers were provided to them with food, so they began to associate them with food and therefore attached themselves to them. The experiment had some interesting results. The monkeys that were deprived of any attachment figures either died soon into the experiment or grew up without frightened did not interact with other monkeys even when they were older. Monkeys with the mothers did attach themselves somewhat readily, although the cloth mothers seemed to be preferred as monkeys only went to the wire mothers when they were hungry and explored more when the cloth mother was present and fled to the cloth mother when a frightening stimuli was presented. These are interesting finds and provide a new light into development of infants.

As I read this it made me wonder what was so different about the cloth that made it that much more conducive to attachment?

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This page contains a single entry by cunni320 published on November 20, 2011 11:40 PM.

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