Harlow's Famous Monkey Study: The Historical and Contemporary Significance of the Nature of Love

Phillip Radetzki
2018 Canadian journal of family and youth  
If you were to contemplate what it meant to be loved or what exactly makes you love another individual, the brunt of your conceptualization may very well stem back to Harry Harlow's famous 1958 study, "The Nature of Love." At a time that approached love as a child's need to reduce primary drives via his/her mother, Harlow aimed to identify other variables that could explain the underlying affection of an infant-mother bond – such as contact comfort. To do this, Harlow conducted a series of
more » ... tigations as part of a novel experimental design that used infant rhesus monkeys and a set of inanimate surrogate mothers. Not only did he propose a new social paradigm for family life, the role of mothers and fathers, and what it meant to be a loving parent in the process, Harlow distinguished himself as one of the most controversial experimental researchers in the history of psychology. The present paper explores the context of Harlow's academic career and the zeitgeists that marked his time while also providing an in-depth analysis of his landmark 1958 study, how his work has been interpreted for over a half-century, and factors contributing to his overall legacy.
doi:10.29173/cjfy29349 fatcat:663vxmzb3baunna6qnnx6jbbcy