Saturday, August 28, 2004

The "question that only a psychologist could ask"

By the time I started college, I had been looking forward to taking my introductory psychology course for a long time. I was fortunate to get into the class during my first quarter.

I was able to get hold of the textbook several weeks before classes started. At one point, I came across a reference to "a question that only a psychologst could ask." What was that question? "Why does an infant love its mother?" I became even more intrigued--both with the subject and the author's way of putting things. Basically, the study showed that the monkeys needed not just to have their utilitarian needs such as food taken care of, but also needed bonding. Years later, in my dissertation, I would go on to ask a question that only a marketer can ask: "Why do people shop?"

The sad thing, however, is that the question was actually based on the Harlowe studies of monkeys. This is one example of the unjustifiably cruel studies that have been done on animals in the name of psychology. When I attend meetings of the American Psychological Assocation, I feel guilt by association when I see the animals' rights demonstrators protesting outside the convention. It is also saddening that textbooks often do not even bother to comment on these cruelties.

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