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The Life and Legacy of Harry Harlow

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The Life and Legacy of Harry Harlow

Over the course of my experience with doing this project I was able to really take a close, in-depth look at the revolutionary American psychologist that is Dr. Harry F. Harlow. This presentation is a basic outline of his life from the very beginning and highlights his most notable experiments as well as achievements in the medical world in the 20th Century. Being born in a small town in Iowa, Harry Harlow lived a life full of making sense of behavior and helped to break through many boundaries when it came to the public understanding of natural human behavior. His educational background consists of many prestigious colleges and universities that include: Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Stanford University where he earned his Ph. D. in psychology. From there he went on to do a professorship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was apart of their Primate Laboratory responsible for a very high percentage of educated students who went on to receive high honors themselves. He accomplished this by working diligently and exclusively with the species of primate called the rhesus monkey. One of Harlow's most well-known experiments with these monkeys is that of the Surrogate Mother Experiment. In this controlled environment, Harlow gathered together a group of infant rhesus monkeys and tested their reactions to a clot and wire surrogate mother. This allowed for a complete assessment of mental, emotional, and physical connection between mother and child. In addition, this also drove Harlow's theories to suggest that of the importance of love and contact when it comes to primates, which was very revolutionary at the time. Furthermore, his Partial/Total isolation experiment measured the effects of leaving the infant monkeys alone in two different environments without contact from any other living thing at all. Although the monkey's reactions to this experiment further magnified the impact and accuracy of Harry's conclusions, it consequentially led to controversy with the public and is widely speculated as the driving force of the animal rights liberation movement. With that aside, Harry Harlow's legacy still lives on in the minds and provides insight to animal behavior and adversely gave a reason for assessment of animal treatment and an ethical regulation within the health care industry. Even in the present year of 2011, Harry Harlow is still impacting the world due to his innovative thinking and ultimately his willingness to bring about a scientific connection to love and emotion.

Works Cited

Blum, Deborah. Love at Goon Park: Harry Harlow and the Science of Affection. Perseus Publishing, 2002, p. 225. The Monkey Wars. Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 96.

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