The Science of Affection

The Science of Affection: How a Rebel Researcher Pioneered the Study of Love in the 1950s and Illuminated How Parents Shape Children’s Emotional Patterns

“Who we are and who we become depends, in part, on whom we love,” psychologists Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon observed in their indispensable A General Theory of Love. “To love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love,” the great Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hahn wrote. But although love has been a fixture of philosophy, ethics, and the world’s great spiritual traditions since the dawn of recorded thought, it has earned its place as a subject of science only recently, and chiefly thanks to one man — primate researcher Harry Harlow (October 31, 1905–December 6, 1981), who defied the scientific dogma of his day to unravel the psychological armature of affection, how our formative attachments shape who we become, and why love is the most primary need to be met for healthy development.

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