Harlow, Harry Frederick

Harlow, Harry Frederick (1905-1981) was an American psychologist. His studies of the social behavior of monkeys provided new understanding of human behavior and development.

Harlow's research concluded that a mother's love and close social contacts are needed at an early age for the normal development of behavior. He studied the behavior of monkeys that had been taken from their mothers at birth and given dummy mothers made of wire or cloth. The female infant monkeys responded to the dummy mothers as if they were real mothers.


When they got older, however, these female monkeys, who had not experienced the care and affection of their natural mothers, did not know how to be good mothers themselves. Harlow also found that monkeys who were raised alone did not get along well with other monkeys as adults.

Harry Frederick Israel was born on Oct. 31. 1905, in Fairfield, Iowa. He received a bachelor's degree in 1927 and a doctorate in 1930 from Stanford University. He changed his last name to Harlow in 1930. In 1932, Harlow married Clara Mears. They divorced in 1946. They had two children. Harlow married Margaret Kuenne in 1948, and they had two children. After his second wife died in 1972, Harlow remarried his first wife.

Harlow served on the faculty at the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1930 until his retirement in 1974. During his time there, he supervised more than 30 doctoral students. From 1951 to 1963, he edited the Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology. Harlow was director of the university's Regional Primate Center from 1961 to 1971. From 1974 until his death, Harlow was a visiting scholar at the University of Arizona. He died on Dec. 6, 1981, in Tucson, Arizona.