In the 1950s, psychologist Harry Harlow began to study mother-infant relations in monkeys. After depriving young monkeys from their biological mothers, they were placed in a room where they could either hang out with a “wire monkey” – essentially, a metal figure in the rough shape of a monkey – or a “cloth monkey,” which was the same figure, adorned in a fuzzy terry cloth coat. The key, though, was the only the wire monkey would provide nourishment. The cloth monkey had no food or drink to give.
He was a bit surprised to find that the baby monkeys spent most of their time with the cloth monkeys, only approaching the wire monkeys when hungry.
Now, half a century later, teacher Brad Wray and his independent study students from Arundel High School in Maryland have set one of those experiments to music.
Want to learn more about Harlow? Check out Deborah Blum’s Love at Goon Park