Monkey love experiments

Are we hardwired to accept comfort from—and form attachments with—intimate objects provided they bear just enough of a likeness to ourselves? In the late 50s, researcher Harry Harlow conducted his well-known surrogate mother experiments that demonstrated the importance of mother-child bonding. In them, rhesus monkeys separated from mothers at birth were shown to prefer cloth-covered surrogates over wire ones regardless of their inability to give milk. Prior to the experiments, physical contact with infants was considered harmful to their development, and this view led to sterile, contact-less nurseries across the country. Harlow’s work, which always struck me as horrendously cruel, was key in turning this around.

Acrylic on board
8″ x 10″

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