Mother’s Love Influences Offspring’s Social Behavior

Mid adult woman holding a young girl in an airplaneA mother’s love is one of those things we all know on some fundamental level—we may know some kind of love, or we may know the lack of it. Whether she is nurturing, negligent, or not around, a mother will have an enormous impact on her children.

Research has shown that a mother’s touch and physical closeness influences the development of her child’s heart, brain, and emotional behavior. One professor at the UCLA School of Medicine refers to these early interactions between mother and child as a “template” for emotional and physical connection later in life (Young, 2010).

In the case of an absentee mother, children tend to learn from whatever social structure surrounds them. According to recent research involving chimpanzees, this may make them more apt to engage in social activities, but it may also foster a lack of self-control and increased aggression.

Scientists from the Comparative Cognitive Anthropology Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics studied the effects of motherly love on chimpanzees at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust in Zambia. Eight were orphaned and nine had a mother to rear and care for them. The orphans were mainly raised by human caretakers and then integrated in an “orphan chimp group,” while the others had their mothers to nurture and guide their growth.

Although the researchers anticipated that those with mothers would play more often, they observed that those in the orphan group displayed more frequent motivation for “social play.” However, they also observed that their play often became somewhat chaotic and aggressive.

The chimpanzees who were raised by their mothers in the early stages of social development were not prone to these bouts of aggression during play time, though they were inclined to engage in play less frequently. For humans and chimpanzees alike, mothers have a significant impact on the way their children interact and behave in social settings.


  1. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft. (2013, September 6). Mother chimps crucial for offspring’s social skills. Retrieved from
  2. Young, C. (2010, February). The science of mother love. Wise Woman Herbal Ezine, Vol. 10, No. 2. Retrieved from

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  • Claudia


    January 4th, 2014 at 8:57 AM

    I know that there are lots of people who like to discount the nurture aspect and who profess that it’s all about nature, that kids are who they are from birth and that nothing that can be said or done can change that.

    I have never believed that and I know that research like this strongly supports this belief. The interactions that children have with their parents is so critical, it really does form the basis for their morals and beliefs and who they become as an adult. It is our job, our JOB, to raise good children, because these are the kids who are one day going to grow up and be the adults in this world. I want to feel good about what I leave behind, don’t you?

  • Natalie


    January 6th, 2014 at 3:55 AM

    On many levels I agree tith this 100% but then I look at other situations and I think that these are parents who have done everything for their kids and still the child has social interaction issues. I know that we would like for there to be one explanation only because this helps us have things fit neatly into the little boxes that we like to compartmentalize life into but… I think that most of us know that it is more complicated than that. There have to be more issues at work here than just this one thing, which I know is important, but should not be identified as the only indicator either.

  • constance r

    constance r

    January 6th, 2014 at 10:43 AM

    I would love to see the research and how it then compares to kids who are adopted at an early age and does this still pan out. Does it matter if this comes from a biological parent or is it enough that it comes from someone who feels like a parent even if there is not that blood bond?

  • Gary S

    Gary S

    January 7th, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    And the role of dad? How does this factor in?

  • เครื่องช่วยฟังราคา


    August 26th, 2015 at 6:13 PM

    Good way of telling, and pleasant piece of writing to take facts
    regarding my presentation topic, which i am going to present in college.

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