Compare and Contrast the Work of Harry Harlow and Mary Ainsworth on Understanding Attachment.

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Compare and contrast the work of Harry Harlow and Mary Ainsworth on understanding attachment. Within attachment theory, attachment is an affectional bond or tie between an individual and an attachment figure. The theory of attachment was first introduced into psychology by the eminent psychologist John Bowlby in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Both Harlow and Ainsworth’s research was a direct result of previous attachment studies by Bowlby. His findings into attachment radically challenged the prevalent behaviourist theory of Watson of learned infant attachment in response to constant stimuli and the psychoanalytical theory of Freud that attachment was based on biological needs or ‘cupboard love’ theories as unreliable. (Custance, 2010). Within this essay I will attempt to describe both Harlow’s and Ainsworth research methods and compare and contrast their findings and criticisms. Harry Harlow’s work on attachment focused on the bond between infant and mother. Harlow wanted to investigate whether attachment was based on the ‘cupboard love’ theory of Freud and Watson or on Bowlby’s suggestion that attachment was an innate tendency in response to warmth and tactility. Harlow intended to use experimental, laboratory conditions to test this theory. Due to the ethical implications of Harlow’s proposed experiment, human participation was impossible so Harlow chose to observe Rhesus macaque monkeys instead. (Custance, 2010). During routine cleaning of the monkey’s cages, Harlow noticed that the baby monkeys seemed to become attached to the pads at the bottom of their cages and would become distressed when the pads where removed. This seemingly obscure observation became the basis of Harlow’s most famous psychological experiment. (Custance, 2010). Harlow hypothesised that for an infant monkey to attach it requires tactile stimuli conditions more than food. Harlow
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