By Peg Schultz ’47
Editor’s note: Peg sent us her memories of working with monkeys in Peters and Tappan Square for a psychology study before she become a School Psychologist.
When I was a senior psych major I worked with two Mangabey monkeys, in a room on the third floor of Peters Hall, under the direction of Dr. John Finan. The purpose was to train them to participate in an experiment having to do with the effect of an intervening variable on memory and learning.
I had done a similar experiment with young children-having them watch me bury a piece of candy–an M&M, I believe–in a tray of sand and then engaging them in some activity for a brief period before asking them to find the candy by remembering where it was placed. I don’t remember how the experiment turned out and I don’t believe the results were ever published. However, the follow-up was to use a similar procedure with the monkeys as subjects. But first, we (a fellow psychology major and I) had to get the monkeys used to us and accustomed to being fed and handled by us.
Sammy, the male, was quite docile and learned quickly. Russ was able to put him on a leash and walk him around Tappan Square, much to the delight of any students who happened by. Chiquita, on the other hand, never got over her habit of “biting the hand that fed her,” which was usually mine. I had many lingering scars on my left hand and never got her to the point where she could be managed out of the cage.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, I graduated before we even started the experiment, and have no idea what eventually happened to the experiment or the monkeys. However, with that experience on my record I got an assistantship at the University of Michigan the next year and was assigned to do lab work involving white mice with Dr. Edward Walker. That worked out much better–no biting– and resulted in a journal article with my name as co-author. Happily, I turned from animals to children and became a School Psychologist.