Psychology Dictionary of Arguments

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Slater I 16
Behavior/Harlow: The finding that rearing with age-mates could compensate for the effects of maternal deprivation on developing peer relationships was the most controversial and tentative finding in the 1962 paper(1). Working with small numbers of monkeys, Harlow observed few differences between mother-raised and peer-raised monkeys on play, defensive, or sexual behavior with peers during the juvenile period of development.
This finding led Harlow to conclude that play with agemates was “more necessary than mothering to the development of effective social relations” (Harlow & Harlow, 1962(1), p. 495). However, Harlow remained tentative about his conclusions noting that they were limited to outcomes only up to two years of age.
Follow-up studies of peer-reared monkeys by Harlow’s former graduate student, Steve Suomi, suggested a less sanguine view of peer-raised monkeys even during the juvenile period of development (Suomi, 2008)(2).
When (…) peer-raised monkeys were grouped with mother-raised monkeys, they dropped to the bottom of the peer dominance hierarchies (Bastian, Sponberg, Sponberg, Suomi, & Higley, 2002)(3).
Slater I 17
VsHarlow: Research has advanced from the social deprivation paradigms in several respects.
1) Researchers have examined more subtle variations in early caregiving environments by considering the effects of temporary separations from caregivers as well as variations in the quality of maternal care provided to offspring (Suomi & Levine, 1998)(4).
2) Researchers have begun to examine individual differences in offsprings’ susceptibility to environmental influences (Lyons, Parker, & Schatzberg, 2010)(5).
3) The trends toward examining a continuum of caregiving environments and individual differences in children’s susceptibility to caregiving environments have been advanced by efforts to identify the genetic, neural, and physiological mechanisms through which early experience affects later outcomes (Weaver et al., 2004)(6). Cf. >Affectional bonds/psychological theories.




1. Harlow, H. F., & Harlow, M. (1962). Social deprivation in monkeys. Scientific American, 207, 137–146.
2. Suomi, S. J. (2008). Attachment in rhesus monkeys. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 173–191). New York: Guilford Press.
3. Bastian, M. L., Sponberg, A. C., Suomi, S. J., & Higley, J. D. (2002). Long-term effects of infant rearing condition on the acquisition of dominance rank in juvenile and adult rhesus macaques
(Macaca mulatta). Developmental Psychobiology, 42, 44–51.
4. Suomi, S., & Levine, S. (1998). Psychobiology of intergenerational effects of trauma: Evidence from animal studies. In Y. Daneli (Ed.), International handbook of multigenerational legacies of trauma (pp. 623–637). New York: Plenum Press.
5. Lyons, D. M., Parker, K. J., & Schatzberg, A. F. (2010). Animal models of early life stress: Implications for understanding resilience. Developmental Psychobiology, 52, 616–624.
6. Weaver, I. C. G., Cervoni, N., Champagne, F. A., D’Alessio, A. C., Sharma, S., Seckl, J. R., Dymov, S., et al. (2004). Epigenetic programming by maternal behavior. Nature Neuroscience, 7, 847–854.


Roger Kobak, “Attachment and Early Social deprivation. Revisiting Harlow’s Monkey Studies”, in: Alan M. Slater and Paul C. Quinn (eds.) 2012. Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies. London: Sage Publications


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution.
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
Harlow, Harry
Slater I
Alan M. Slater
Paul C. Quinn
Developmental Psychology. Revisiting the Classic Studies London 2012


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