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The nature of love

Three years' experimentation before we started our studies on affection gave us experience
with the neonatal monkey. We had separated more than 60 of these animals from their mothers
6 to 12 hours after birth and suckled them on tiny bottles. The infant mortality was only a small
fraction of what would have obtained had we let the monkey mothers raise their infants. Our
bottle-fed babies were healthier and heavier than monkey-mother-reared infants. We know that
we are better monkey mothers than are real monkey mothers thanks to synthetic diets,
vitamins, iron extracts, penicillin, chloromycetin, 5% glucose, and constant, tender, loving care.
During the course of these studies we noticed that the laboratory raised babies showed strong
attachment to the cloth pads (folded gauze diapers) which were used to cover the hardware-
cloth floors of their cages. The infants clung to these pads and engaged in violet temper
tantrums when the pads were removed and replaced for sanitary reasons. Such contact-need
or responsiveness had been reported previously by Gertrude van Wagenen for the monkey and
by Thomas McCulloch and George Haslerud for the chimpanzee and is reminiscent of the
devotion often exhibited by human infants to their pillows, blankets, and soft, cuddly stuffed
toys. Responsiveness by the one-day-old infant monkey to the cloth pad is shown in Figure 1,
and an unusual and strong attachment of a six-month-old infant to the cloth pad is illustrated in
Figure 2. The baby, human or monkey, if it is to survive, must clutch at more than a straw.
We had also discovered during some allied observational studies that a baby monkey raised on
a bare wire-mesh cage floor survives with difficulty, if at all, during the first five days of life. If a
wire-mesh cone is introduced, the baby does better; and, if the cone is covered with terry cloth,
husky, healthy, happy babies evolve. It takes more than a baby and a box to make a normal
monkey. We were impressed by the possibility that, above and beyond the bubbling fountain of
breast or bottle, contact comfort might be a very important variable in the development of the
infant's affection for the mother.