How Harry Harlow’s Monkey Love Experiment can Help UX Designers?

Mahi Singh
2 min readApr 24, 2019

A key factor in building a successful product or UI is having great empathy for your users — understanding what they do, think, feel, say and lastly what they eat (kidding). This helps you identify what they truly need and the context in which your product might meet this need.

A good UX and an awesome UI should always be run parallel. Achieving any product goal by showing beautiful colours & layout is as equally important as to implement love & empathy. It should be the right blend of both UI & UX. Emphasize on any single entity, might become a reason for your product failure.

In 1950 Harry Harlow’s experiment is very interesting and proves how empathy and need are equally essential. He conducted an experiment over monkeys. He separated the newly born infant monkeys from their mothers at the time of birth and placed with two dummy mothers (one built with scary wireframe but having milk, and another one was built with comfortable monkey like fur but without milk). It has been seen that babies were attracted towards dummy with fur having no milk.

This experiment showed that there is a large emotional component that needs to be nourished as well. Harlow’s monkeys preferred the animated mother having that cosy feel because they were not just seeking milk, they were desperate for an emotional bond. You can read the full case study here: http://pages.uoregon.edu/adoption/studies/HarlowMLE.htm.

This study has been used by many web designers, UI designers, Interior designers and Architects to study the area of Design for Humans.

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