Nonverbal Communication Notes CH.9.docx - Nonverbal Communication Notes CH 9 Life-Span Development and Touch Tactile stimulation is a highly necessary

Nonverbal Communication Notes CH.9.docx - Nonverbal...

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Nonverbal Communication Notes CH. 9 Life-Span Development and Touch Tactile stimulation is a highly necessary form of interaction throughout the life spans of animals and humans. In this section, we discuss the nature of touch during human development. Much of the early research on touch was done with animal populations. It provided considerable insight into the effects of touch on growth and development. Touch in Animals We suggested earlier that tactile communication is the primary if not the only means of interaction for many basic forms of animal life. Consider the communication among social insects such as bees and ants, which is highly dependent on touch. Through their antennae, these insects transmit the messages that ensure the smooth operation of their microsocieties. Touch signals in most animal species generally are coupled with chemical signals detected through smell. Two important tactile phenomena that occur among various species are gentling and licking . These are kinds of touch adult animals use with their offspring just after birth. Gentling behavior is the stroking and touching of animal newborns. Licking is used in the animal world to clean the offspring. Licking also plays an important role in stimulating the physiological functions of newborn animals and therefore contributes dramatically to their survival. Some of the most notable research concerning the effects of touch on animals was conducted by psychologist Harry Harlow and his associates using monkeys ( Harlow & Zimmerman, 1958 ; Harlow, Harlow & Hansen, 1963 ). Harlow was interested in the bodily contact between mother monkeys and their offspring. Under tightly controlled laboratory conditions, the investigators observed that infant monkeys separated from their mothers grew fond of gauze pads attached to their cages and essentially attached themselves to them. Upon removing the pads, Harlow and his colleagues noticed that the infant monkeys became violent. They also found that infants reared in bare wiremesh enclosures had considerable difficulty surviving during the first several days after birth. In a later study, the researchers placed two surrogate mothers in the cages with the infant monkeys. One surrogate mother was made of terry cloth with a light bulb behind the head to give off heat. The second surrogate mother was constructed out of wire- mesh material. The cloth mother “lactated” through a bottle in half the conditions, and the wire mother “lactated” in the other half. The baby monkeys had equal access to both mothers and were allowed to spend any amount of time they wanted with either. The results were somewhat surprising. Even when the wire mother lactated, the infant monkeys preferred the cloth mother. The researchers concluded that the attraction to the cloth mother was due to the tactile comfort she provided. Harlow and his colleagues were surprised to observe that the affection and love stemming from the tactile comfort seemed to far exceed the need for the infant monkeys to nurse. At least in some circumstances, touch may be more important than food.
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