Attachment - Harlow 1958.pdf - THE NATURE OF LOVE 1 HARRY F...

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THE NATURE OF LOVE 1 HARRY F. HARLOW University oj Wisconsin Love is a wondrous state, deep, tender, and re- warding. Because of its intimate and personal na- ture it is regarded by some as an improper topic for experimental research. But, whatever our per- sonal feelings may be, our assigned mission as psy- chologists is to analyze all facets of human and animal behavior into their component variables. So far as love or affection is concerned, psycholo- gists have failed in this mission. The little we know about love does not transcend simple obser- vation, and the little we write about it has been written better by poets and novelists. But of greater concern is the fact that psychologists tend to give progressively less attention to a motive which pervades our entire lives. Psychologists, at least psychologists who write textbooks, not only show no interest in the origin and development of love or affection, but they seem to be unaware of its very existence. The apparent repression of love by modern psy- chologists stands in sharp contrast with the atti- tude taken by many famous and normal people. The word "love" has the highest reference fre- quency of any word cited in Bartlett's book of Familiar Quotations. It would appear that this emotion has long had a vast interest and fascina- tion for human beings, regardless of the attitude taken by psychologists; but the quotations cited, even by famous and normal people, have a mun- dane redundancy. These authors and authorities have stolen love from the child and infant and made it the exclusive property of the adolescent and adult. Thoughtful men, and probably all women, have speculated on the nature of love. From the de- velopmental point of view, the general plan is quite 1 Address of the President at the sixty-sixth Annual Con- vention of the American Psychological Association, Wash- ington, D, C., August 31, 1958. The researches reported in this paper were supported by funds supplied by Grant No. M-722, National Institutes of Health, by a grant from the Ford Foundation, and by funds received from the Graduate School of the Univer- sity of Wisconsin. clear: The initial love responses of the human be- ing are those made by the infant to the mother or some mother surrogate. From this intimate attach- ment of the child to the mother, multiple learned and generalized affectional responses are formed. Unfortunately, beyond these simple facts we know little about the fundamental variables under- lying the formation of affectional responses and little about the mechanisms through which the love of the infant for the mother develops into the multifaceted response patterns characterizing love or affection in the adult. Because of the dearth of experimentation, theories about the fundamental nature of affection have evolved at the level of observation, intuition, and discerning guesswork, whether these have been proposed by psycholo- gists, sociologists, anthropologists, physicians, or psychoanalysts.

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