Nature of Love in Psychology

Read The Nature of Love by Harry Harlow. How does this relate to Erickson's first 2 stages of development?


The assignment studies what love is from psychological point of view. It takes Harry Harlow’s concept to define nature of love and relates the concept with Erikson’s 1st two stages of development and with the Romanian orphans by studying two website documents on Romanian orphans which describes the plight of Children in orphanages of Romania and how the authorities responsible handled the matter.

Harry Harlow Nature of Love

Harry Harlow nature of love deals with the psychological aspects of love. It rejects the concept of love as described by poets and novelists and attributes love more to security and other necessary things such as food, shelter, sexual requirements etc. The concept describes security and comfort as the major component of love over food and other components. The concept says that although food plays a major role in development of animals including humans (social animals), it is not above the security and concern for care in animals which is heavily dependent on the tender care provided to a baby animals during its infancy which according to psychologists plays a very important role in the overall mental and physical development of animals at a later stage. The concept of love described in the Harry Harlow nature of love is based on the experiments done on baby monkeys where baby monkeys were separated from their mother and raised in artificial facilities where they were provided with milks to suckle through bottles and were provided shelters which were synonymous to the requirements of baby monkeys to grow. Two monkeys were provided with same kind of food supplements but different kind of shelters. The 1st one was given a very cushion type of environment with soft delicate clothes with warm tender like shelter and the other was provided with wire like shelters having less comforts. The monkey with good shelter was found to be overall healthy. In the next stage to experiment further, an artificial surrogate mother was put with two differentiating nature of shelter, one was heavily cushioned with all the comforts including food and the other was provided with less comfort but same amount of food materials. In both of them the monkeys could suck milk from a well put nipple like thing. On observation it was found when the monkeys crossed their first stage of infancy and were let roam free they would mostly go to the surrogate mother with more comfort whenever they would feel threatened by external environment for security and care. The concept stated further that the overall development of monkeys which were observed growing with their original mother were not as good as the monkeys with surrogate mothers (Vicedo, 2010).

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Relation of Harry Harlow Concept of Love with Erickson's 1st two stages of development

Erik Erikson, a famous psychologist described the psychological and personality development of human being in eight stages. He emphasized the role of society and culture in human developments and the conflicts which can occur within the ego of a person, thereby focusing on the psychosocial thing rather than the psychosexual thing. Erikson’s divides the total development of human beings into eight stages and his five crucial stages is put into the period from infancy to 18 years of age. He states that the 1st two stage holds significant importance in comparison to the overall developments to follow in the next six stages. He holds the view that if the first two stage is crossed nicely then the later stages of development becomes relatively easy and the individual human’s overall development is very healthy. The following are the two stages.
•    Trust vs Mistrust (from infancy to eighteen months of age)
According to Erikson in this period the psychosocial crisis occurs during this period and the infant baby is uncertain their living world. This crisis is described as trust vs mistrust and if he/she receives reliable , consistent and predictable care then the sense of trust and hope is developed in him which makes him feel secure even during the time he/she feels threatened during later stages of development.
•    Autonomy vs Doubt and Shame ( from 1 ½ years of age to 3 years)
During these stage the child is able to develop physically and can choose their own things from toy to clothes to books to their favorite colors, at this stage, the child discovers that he/she has many abilities and in this stage the parents or the caretaker needs to play a supportive role by encouraging them to do things on their own and help them whenever they require help depending on the situations (McLeod, 2013).
Now if we look into it and compare with the Harry Harlow nature of love we can found similarities that the development of a child depends very much on the reliable care he/she gets during the infant and the age succeeding immediately after that, the examples of experiments with monkeys clearly illustrate that sense of security and hope is very important with the developments to follow later.

Relation of Harry Harlow concept with the Orphans of Romania

The study of Romanian orphans also stands in compliance with the Harry Harlow nature of love and overall developments of a baby. The children in the orphanages of Romania were found to be mentally degraded and with very less IQ s and their physical development were also found to be retarded despite the fact that they were fed with proper food. This can be related to the concept of Harry Harlow where the importance of tender care with individual preferences has been put ahead of other things (Aslanian, 2006). Since, the children of Romanian Orphanage were not taken care of individually; they lagged way behind in comparison to normal children with regard to overall development. Now, when they adopted and taken care of by their foster parents they showed better results in terms of physical and mental developments, but the deficit could not be made up since they lacked the care very essential during infancy. Whenever any person would arrive in the orphanage, the children would run with their arms wide open for adoption, this showed how important individual care is for the children and food is only secondary to individual care and preferences which can be very well related to the Harry Harlow Concept (Pappas, 2012).


Aslanian, S., 2006. npr. [Online] npr Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2015].
McLeod, S.A., 2013. Simply Psychology. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2015].
Pappas, S., 2012. livescience. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2015].
Vicedo, M., 2010. SAGE. [Online] University of Toronto (21) Available at: [Accessed 20 December 2015].

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