18 December 2018
Harlows monkeys is an experiment that was conducted by Harry Harlow to determine the effects on infants separated from their mother and how the isolation affects them later in their lives. There were two hypotheses that were tested which was whether a surrogate could take the place of a biological mother and if the bond between mother and child is purely based on physiological need (Psychology Notes HQ, 2014).
Based on the experiment it has been determined that there is science in the emotion of love and dependency that can be placed under a microscope and observed.
The study of Harlows monkeys resulted in displaying the significance of the bond between mother and child and how detrimental it can be on the child throughout life if separated from their mother before the necessary time it takes for them to establish the bond to fulfill the needs to maintain life but also includes the need of emotional support.
Behaviorism is an approach of observing and controlling behavior (Spielman et al., 2018). The use of this approach is most used with animals most notably monkeys due to the implication that what is learned from the subjects can be applied to human behavior. This approach was used by using a cloth mother and a wire mother. Although, the monkey would spend a lot of time with the wire mother which provided basic needs to sustain life the monkey would bond with the cloth mother more seeking emotional support.
This experiment implies that there is a solid connection that can be applied to humans that there is a strong desire for humans to seek comfort and security as an infant that will determine their behavior into adulthood.
The study of Harlows monkeys used deductive reasoning. Deductive reasoning starts with a generalization that is tested against real-world observations (Spielman et al., 2018). The study aligns with this approach because it stemmed from research conducted by Harry Harlow where the generalized assumption was made that the monkeys were adapting to the experiments he performed. Thus, he specified the experiment to determine how infants would react when separated and isolated from their mother preventing the primates from being able to strategize ways around the experimentations.
The research method I know to have been used with Harlows monkeys is experimental. The purpose of this method is to determine cause and effect by manipulating variables. This was done with the variables being a terry cloth mother and a wire mother. The effect of this was the choice infants will make based on the need for protection and emotional support and their response when frightened and isolated. The observation made was that the monkeys that was cohabitated with the terry cloth mother regardless of the nourishment that it received from the wire mother had more of a bond with the terry cloth mother to receive the emotional support it needed when threatened (Psychology Notes HQ, 2014).
The humane research standard is research conducted using nonhuman animals to help understand basic behaviors which will help in the advancement of the welfare for humans and animals alike (American Psychological Association 2010). In experimental procedures based on the Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research if an experiment does not cause distress to the subject then the experiment is acceptable. Being that the monkeys were placed in distress being taken away from their mother at such a young age, isolating them and putting them in a threatening environment this experimental is unethical. Although it helped in the means of determining the cause and effects of human behavior in terms of reactions based on isolation and how it could affect them in later years it should not have been conducted.
It has been concluded that it can be observed on how emotion is evolved between mother and infant bond. There is science in the emotion of love and dependency and regardless of the circumstances in which one is placed in there is a stronger desire for comfort, security and emotional support over what is needed to maintain life being that of food and water. Although, the experiment is deemed to be unethical it has been beneficial however the research should have been conducted by other means.
Guidelines for Ethical Conduct in the Care and Use of Nonhuman Animals in Research. (n.d.). Retrieved December 18, 2018, from Harlow’s Monkey Experiment The Bond between Infants and Mothers. (2014, June 3). Retrieved December 18, 2018, from
Spielman, R. M., Dumper, K., Jenkins, W., Lacombe, A., Lovett, M., & Perlmutter, M. (2018). Psychology. Retrieved from (2012, September 17). Harlows Monkeys [Video file]. Retrieved December 19, 2018, from