Attachment - Animal Studies (Lorenz's Research (Procedure - randomly…
Attachment - Animal Studies
- randomly divided a clutch of goose eggs. Half hatched with their mother in natural environment (control group), half hatched in an incubator where the first moving object they saw was Lorenz (experimental group).
- experimental group followed Lorenz everywhere. Control group followed their mother. Two groups were mixed up and the experimental group continued to follow Lorenz and the control group their mother.
- bird species that are mobile from birth attach to and follow the first moving object they see. Lorenz identified a critical period for this to happen (can be a few hours after hatching). If imprinting has not occurred in this time, they will not attach to a mother figure.
- imprinting also has an impact on adult mate preferences. Birds will form the template of desirable characteristics required in a mate from their early imprinting.
(Lorenz case study of peacocks and giant tortoises).
Measured reactions of monkeys to frightening situations. Placed monkeys in novel environments, but also added a noise-making teddy.
Continued to study these monkeys' behaviour into adulthood.
Separated 16 rhesus monkeys from mother immediately after birth. Reared them with two model mothers made of wire. In one condition, milk was dispensed by a plain wire mother, in the other condition, milk was dispensed by a cloth-covered mother. Monkey's attachment preference was measured.
When frightened, monkeys sought comfort from cloth mother.
In adulthood, monkeys showed severe consequences of being deprived of their real mothers. More aggressive, less sociable and less skilled in mating than other monkeys. Neglected and sometimes killed their own offspring.
Monkeys cuddled cloth mother in preference to the wire one, regardless of which one they received milk from. Suggests contact comfort is more important than food in attachment.
Evaluation of Harlow
Severe criticisms of ethical concerns
- monkeys are similar enough to humans to generalise findings, which means their suffering was probably human-like. Harlow himself was aware of the suffering caused (referred to the wire-mothers as 'iron maidens' - medieval torture device). However it is argued that research was sufficiently important to justify procedures.
Generalising from monkeys to humans
- more similar to humans than Lorenz's geese, but they are still not humans. Human babies develop speech-like communication (babbling), which may influence attachment. Psychologists disagree on the extent to which we can generalise animal findings to humans.
- helped social workers understand risk factors in child abuse and so to intervene to prevent it. Also helped understand importance of attachment figures for baby monkeys in zoos and breeding programmes in the wild. Increased value of research.
Evaluation of Lorenz
Generalising findings from birds to humans
- the mammalian attachment system is different to that in birds. Mammalian attachment is more to do with emotional comfort. It is therefore not appropriate to generalise Lorenz's findings to humans.
Some observations and conclusions have been questioned
- even though chicks were found to mate with yellow washing up gloves if they had been imprinted on them, they learned with experience to mate with their own kind. Suggests effects of imprinting are not as long lasting as Lorenz believed.
Support for concept of imprinting
- research found that chicks imprinted on yellow washing up gloves would try to mate with them as adults. Suggests there is an innate mechanism causing young animals to imprint on a moving object.