Dr Derek Corcoran, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the Open University, introduces the programme, which shows the rhesus monkey experiments of Dr Harry Harlow, at the University of Wisconsin, and ...discusses their applicability to the human mother-child relationship. He introduces Roberta Crawley, Lecturer in Psychology, who shows that there is some similarity between the early mother-child relationship in rhesus monkeys and human beings. She describes the traditional explanations for the formation of the mother-child relationship and shows that Harlow's experiments cast doubt upon this explanation. Further experiments of Harlow introduce the concept of 'the critical period', especially for the development of material behaviour. Dr Corcoran then discusses these experiments with Dr John Bowlby of the Tavistock Clinic, London, and Dr Donald Broadbent of the Medical Research Council, Cambridge. They all agree that Harlow's experiments have important implications for the human mother-child relationship but that one must exercise care in generalising from one species to another. Finally they consider the concept of the critical period.
|Module code and title:
|D100, Understanding society: a foundation course
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|John Bowlby; Donald Broadbent; Derek Corcoran; Roberta Crawley
|BBC Open University
|Corcoran introduces the unit. Crawley introduces the discussion of the mother-child relationship and its effect on a child's later personality. She gives various examples of child dependence on its mother. Shot of human infant being breast fed. Shot of a distressed child lost in a railway station. Shot of Rhesus monkey with her baby. The mother feeds, grooms and cuddles the baby. Crawley suggests that more can be learned about human mother-child relationships through the observation of monkey behaviour. Crawley gives the traditional view of the mother-child relationship; that the dispensing of food by the mother is the cause of the offspring's attachment. Crawley introduces Dr. Harry Harlow's experiments which tended to show that baby monkeys needed the presence of the mother, rather than just the food. Film sequence of Harlow's experiment. Reaction of baby rhesus monkey to mechanical substitute mother shown under various conditions. The experiment showed that the monkey became attached to a cloth substitute mother but not to a wire one even though both dispensed food. Results of the experiment are displayed on a graph. Is the monkey's attachment for the cloth mother the same as for a real mother? Harlow's experiment indicates the attachment is very similar. Shot of baby monkey reaching to the cloth mother. With the aid of diagrams, Crawley shows that the age at which monkeys are introduced to their cloth mothers is very important to their later development. She summarises the results of an experiment by Harlow which showed this. Shots of adult rhesus monkey, reared with a cloth mother, rejecting her own young. Corcoran sums up the results of Harlow's experiments:- 1. Cuddling as a primary feature of the mother-child relationship. 2. Critical age at which the mother is imprinted. Corcoran, Dr. John Bowlby, and Dr. Donald Broadbent discuss Harlow's experiments and the light they shed on the effect of mother-child on later behaviour. Bowlby and Broadbent discuss the concept of period in behaviour formation. Implications of the baby monkey playing only in the presense of its mother are taken up by Broadbent. Bowlby tells of an experiment in which a human baby playing in the presence of its mother, becomes distressed when the mother leaves the room for a short period. Corcoran discuss the Freudian hypothesis of developmental phases. Broadbent brings up and discusses the interplay between clinical and experimental work in psychology. Corcoran previews the next unit.
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