Compare and Contrast How Skinner and Harlow Have Used Non-Human Animals in Behavioural Research

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Compare and contrast how Skinner and Harlow have used non-human animals in behavioural research

In this essay I plan to compare and contrast the works of both Harlow and Skinner, in relation to their investigative studies with non-human animals in behavioural research. Both of these psychologists conducted influential research on the behaviour of animals and both concluded that their findings could also be applied to the behaviour of humans. I plan to compare the similarities and differences with Skinner’s study of non-human animals in his research on reinforcement and learning (Toates 2010 page 167) and that of Harlow’s study of non-human animals in his attachment study (Toates 2010 page 1960), as the main focus for my reference. Although it is now widely acknowledged that Harlow’s research methods would now be considered as being unethical. It was the subsequent debates in response to these research methods, that has sanctioned improvements in ethical standers and the findings of the research have also influenced the attitudes and practice of Western childcare and child psychology today. (Custance 2010 page 212). By analysing Harlow’s and Skinner’s research, I will review their theories that relate to learning being based upon the idea, that all behaviours are acquired through conditioning which occurs through interaction with the environment. ‘Stimulus-response psychology’ looks at understanding how learning consists of the attainment of the links between stimuli and responses (Toates 2010 page 161).

Skinner was born in 1904 and even as a child he was keen on investigating how things worked. He later became interested in psychology, after studying the writtings of Watson and Pavlov (Toates 2010 page 158). Skinner believed that given the right conditions and in a scientifically controlled environment, they could predict and control animal behaviour. By…...

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