'You have everything, live on the fat of the land, what more do you want?' Here's a great but unethical experiment that explains what is wanted!

May 3, 2024 - 19:05
May 14, 2024 - 16:40
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When the characteristics of behavioral psychology began to be investigated, the basis of attachment was thought to be based on the emotional attachment that babies feel towards their mothers, the feeding of the baby and the material relationship. It was believed that babies needed care and that as long as mothers met their needs, bonding would take place. Psychologists advocated different theories about this attachment. Freud argued that infants attach to the object or person who provides oral satisfaction; Watson argued that maternal love is dangerous when the child is being raised; Skinner explained that the child's crying will develop in a positive way by depriving the child of the mother's embrace. Contrary to the scientific views of the time, psychologist Harry Harlow argued that feeding was not enough for healthy attachment, that the baby needed maternal love and trust and that it would contribute significantly to their development. Harlow conducted many experiments with Rhesus monkeys to prove his point.   


In order to conduct experiments, he separated the baby monkeys from their mothers immediately after birth, left them alone in cages and began to observe their behavior. After some time, the monkeys began to display problematic behavior. Harlow's experiments made him realize the contribution of compassion and contact to the infant's psychological development. Harlow separated baby monkeys from their mothers and raised them with artificial mothers in solitude and social deprivation. The aim of one of his experiments was to prove that baby monkeys first need a symbol of care, love and compassion, apart from the mother's nutrients. In this context, Harlow began to study the development of baby monkeys by creating an environment in which they could be raised alone. All the needs that the mother needed to fulfill were provided by Harlow and his team. As a result, the behavior of these baby monkeys was highly withdrawn and asocial. They refused contact with other monkeys when they went outside. In addition, it even resulted in death 






Harlow started the 'Wire Mothers' experiment in line with the results of this finding. In the experiment, he created two separate setups. The first one is made of wire and wood, and the other is a mechanism that mimics the mother monkey, covered with a cloth. The wire mother acted as a nutrient giver for the babies, while the cloth mother did not provide nutrients, but only reflected the warmth of the mother made of a soft towel. The behavior of baby monkeys when left alone with these devices has made a great contribution to the world of science. The monkeys turned to the wire mother only when they were hungry and quickly returned to the cloth mother after they had received enough food. The offspring spent more time with the cloth mother and only went to the wire mother when they needed to feed. With the 'Wire Mothers' experiment, Harlow proved that maternal warmth, along with feeding, is essential for healthy development and attachment in infants.In another experiment, Harlow examined the role of the mother in the development of trust in infants. For the experiment, she designed a robot that made loud and frightening noises. When the robot started up, the monkeys immediately took refuge from the diaper to the mother and hugged her. In the second phase of the experiment, Harlow observed how the monkeys would behave and what they would do in an unfamiliar environment. When the monkeys entered the room with the cloth mother, they first went to her and began to explore the room, receiving affection and support from her. The monkeys that entered the room without the fabric mother were frightened and showed aggressive behavior. Screaming, shaking and repeated freezing behavior were observed in the baby monkeys. For the monkeys, exploratory behavior in an unfamiliar environment was only possible because of the mother's compassion and warmth.   


In another of Harlow's experiments, he observed differences in the diet of monkeys raised with a wire mother and a diaper mother. The two monkeys gained weight at the same rate, but the monkey raised with the wire mother had trouble digesting and excreting. The result of this experiment showed that lack of tactile touch causes digestive problems.   

  In another of Harlow's experiments, the differences in nutrition between monkeys raised with a wire mother and a diaper mother were observed. The two monkeys gained weight at the same rate, but the monkey raised with the wire mother had problems with digestion and excretion. The result of this experiment showed that lack of tactile contact causes digestive problems.   

 After these experiments, Harlow argued that the soft fake mother could substitute for the real mother. However, in a later laboratory experiment, he obtained different results. Monkeys that grew up with the soft pseudomother showed aggressive behavior when they were taken outside to mate. Harlow then conducted another experiment to examine the effects. He made the cotton surrogate mother into a playful one that could rock and move. He gave this experiment half an hour and realized that monkeys that grew up with a moving mother showed a healthier development compared to other monkeys. Harlow concluded that touch is not enough for healthy psychological development; movement and play are also important 




Harlow separated the baby monkeys from their mothers and made quite different arguments according to the conditions of the time. Harlow's experiments made us realize the contribution of affection and contact to the infant's psychological development. However, he became the target of criticism because his experiments were unconscientious. Harry Harlow's experiments are seen as unethical today. It was seen as the reason why he separated the monkeys from their mothers for the experiment, isolated them and caused the offspring to suffer psychologically. However, no matter how the process of his experiments progressed, he proved that love is important. He stated that the problems caused by lack of love can be introversion, insecurity, failure in bilateral relationships, tendency to violence and even problems in their brains 





Tuna, İ. (2018). Annenin bağlanma stili ile çocuk yetiştirme tutumu ilişkisinin incelenmesi (Master’s thesis, İstanbul Ticaret Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü) 


Cankardaş, S. (2018) Çocukluktan Yetişkinliğe Duygusal İhmal ve Etkileri. Online Psikoloji Dergisi, 15(1), 47-51 

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Nur Özel Merhaba, ben Nur Özel. KTO KARATAY ÜNİVERSİTESİ psikoloji 2.sınıf öğrencisiyim. Okulumuz bünyesinde bulunan Psikolojik Etkileşim Topluluğu yönetim ekibinde yer almaktayım. Çeşitli etkinliklerde yer alıp, planlayıcı ve oluşturucu rollerim vardır. 1. sınıfın yaz döneminde Rehber Klinik bünyesinde staj yapıp, temel düzeyde BDT, MİNDFULNESS ve SPOR PSİKOLOJİSİ eğitimi aldım. Stajımın bitmesiyle Yücel Kültür Vakfı'nın mülakatlarını geçip, gönüllü olmaya hak kazandım ve etkinlik üreticisi olarak görev yapıyorum. Kendimi, ekip ve takım çalışması dışında başka alanlarda geliştirmek adına, Sayedra Psikoloji Blog'da, İngilizce-Türkçe olarak psikoloji alanında makaleler yayınlanmaktayım. Bunların yanında Psikoform Akademi'de üniversite temsilcisi olarak eğitim hayatımı dolu dolu geçirmekteyim.