Several weeks ago in our biology, Professor Grobstein mentioned that his college seminar class was holding a bake sale in our campus center. He approached his sales pitch by asking if we were stressed from the workload of the end of the semester. Inevitably we all nodded our heads in agreement that the homework had begun to take its toll. He urged us all to support his class's efforts and their somewhat atypical offer including an optional hug with the purchase of a brownie. After class I found myself thinking about his association with stress and the need for a hug.
I know from personal experience that a hug or even a pat on the back can cheer me up. I've also read that people who make appropriate physical contact in business transactions-a firm handshake or a hand on the shoulder-are more likely to land the deal than those who keep to themselves. However, the necessity of physical interaction goes beyond the role of a mere stress reliever or business etiquette; rather it is essential to the development of an infant-both socially and physically.
Among the most well known experiments on the subject were those of Harry Harlow in the 1950s and 1960s. Through his series of tests with infant monkeys and their application to humans, he brought a new understanding of child psychology and our own behavior (7). Until his experiments, most scientists assumed that the affection infants displayed for their mothers was an association between the mother and the quenching of primary needs-hunger, thirst, and pain (11).
Harlow ran a series of experiments in which he separated infant rhesus monkeys from their mothers six to twelve hours after birth (6). At first he raised the infant monkeys i...
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7) Harry Harlow , from The Psi Café
8) Birth and the Origins of Violence
9) Alienation of Affection
10) Rock A Bye Baby , Time Life documentary and summary
11)The Nature of Love, from Classics in the History of Psychology
12) The Journey Home: A Romanian Adoption , from CBC
13)"Nature" And "Nurture" Interact In Sequential Stages , from Classrooms of the 21st Century
14) A Decisive Decade of Protection , from Unicef
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