Harry Harlow

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Harry Frederick Harlow (October 31, 1905 – December 6, 1981) was an American psychologist best known for his maternal-separation, dependency needs, and social isolation experiments on rhesus monkeys, which manifested the importance of caregiving and companionship in social and cognitive development.

Quotes by Harlow[edit]

  • Love is a wondrous state, deep, tender, and rewarding. Because of its intimate and personal nature it is regarded by some as an improper topic for experimental research. But, whatever our personal feelings may be, our assigned missions as psychologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psychologists have failed in this mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple observation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists.
    • originally published in "The Nature of Love", American Psychologist, volume 13, number 12, December 1958
  • In our study of psychopathology, we began as sadists trying to produce abnormality. Today, we are psychiatrists trying to achieve normality and equanimity.
    • Harlow, H.F., Harlow, M.K., Suomi, S.J. From thought to therapy: lessons from a primate laboratory. 538-549; American Scientist. vol. 59. no. 5. September–October; 1971.
  • In the first place I have an enormous regard for common sense. Any time we discover some great thing and it contradicts common sense, we better go back to the laboratory and check it.
  • The only thing I care about is whether a monkey will turn out a property I can publish. I don't have any love for them. Never have. I don't really like animals. I despise cats. I hate dogs. How could you like monkeys?
    • Interview with Pittsburgh Press-Roto, 1974. Quoted in Blum, Deborah. The Monkey Wars. Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 92.
  • The effects of 6 months of total social isolation were so devastating and debilitating that we had assumed initially that 12 months of isolation would not produce any additional decrement. This assumption proved to be false; 12 months of isolation almost obliterated the animals socially.
    • "Total social isolation in monkeys," from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, 1965.
  • Not even in our most devious dreams could we have designed a surrogate as evil as these real monkey mothers were.
    • on the parental behavior of monkeys whose social behaviors he had destroyed in their infancy.
    • as quoted in Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, by Deborah Blum, Perseus Publishing, 2002
  • Because that's how it feels when you're depressed.
    • when challenged on the design of his "vertical chamber apparatus".
    • as quoted in Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection, by Deborah Blum, Perseus Publishing, 2002

About Harlow[edit]

  • [Harlow] kept this going to the point where it was clear to many people that the work was really violating ordinary sensibilities, that anybody with respect for life or people would find this offensive. It's as if he sat down and said, 'I'm only going to be around another ten years. What I'd like to do, then, is leave a great big mess behind.' If that was his aim, he did a perfect job.
    • William Mason, former student of Harlow
    • quoted in The Monkey Wars, by Deborah Blum, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 96.
  • Harry Harlow and his colleagues go on torturing their nonhuman primates decade after decade, invariably proving what we all knew in advance: that social creatures can be destroyed by destroying their social ties.
    • Wayne C. Booth, Modern Dogma and the Rhetoric of Assent, Volume 5, of University of Notre Dame, Ward-Phillips lectures in English language and literature, University of Chicago Press, 1974, p. 114.
  • (W)hereas Milgram’s findings need constant reiteration in every generation, Harlow’s research no longer surprises us. One might say that its very success has made teaching it unnecessary: No one would argue against Harlow’s findings, as many students always want to do with Milgram’s.