Gardner and Gardner

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  • Created by: Kathryn
  • Created on: 28-04-14 14:07


Context                                                                                                                                        Human more advance than animals as we have more advance cognitive abilities like language

Noam Chompsky - Humans specific part of brain enables us to learn language, Language Acquisition Device (LAD). Biologically programmed. Animals cannot learn language as they do not have LAD.

Hayes and Hayes - Worked with chimp called Vicki, in 6 years only able to make 4 sounds - 'mama, papa, cup and up'.

Bryan - Chimpanzee vocal apparus very different to humans. Only make sounds when they're stressed. Usually silent, training a chimp to speak is not possible for this species.

Aim                                                                                                                                            Gardner and Gardner wanted to see if a chimp would communicate with humans. Chimps constrained by vocal chords, so decided to use ASL. Used chimps as they're dexterous, high IQ and high cognitive skills as they are a social species.

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Participant - Female chimp called Washoe, 8 - 11 monts old when acquired by Gardners. Born in Africa an taken to America. Chosen as dexterous, social and intelligent. However unable to vocalise some sounds, so used ASL as equivillent of a language.

Recording of Signs - Washoe free to open a door with a key with a projection of a picture. Sign the picture and 1 observer wrote down the sign and put thorugh post box. Another observer would view Washoe without seeing the picture and write down the sign they saw

Methods of teaching Washoe - Each time Washoe produced a sign was rewarded thorugh food and tickling. All objects and activities given a sign, often signs were moulded and corrected.  Imitation - 'Do this' game, trainer says 'do this' and Washoe imitates specified act for reward. Didnt usually work on command.                                                                                                      Prompting -  If Washoe was doing a sign sloppily then trainer would do correct sign and Washoe would immitate                                                                                                                             Babbling - Important stages of development in human speech, infants practise elements of speech. Important for Washoe to babble ASL, encouraged by repeating babble back.                               Washoe had to use a word consecutively for 15 days to be considered leant.

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Findings and Conclusion

Findings                                                                                                                                     Washoe spontaneously imitated but had no control over her gestures until she was 2.5yrs.   30 words were learnt over 21 months, Washoe was able to combine words together to make a normal short sentence (open food) (water bird).                                                                                         Washoe also capable of telling difference between similar signs e.g flower and smell.

After 7 months of training Washoe could sign 4 words                                                                   After 14 months of training Washoe could sign 13 words                                                               After 21 months of training Washoe could sign 30 words

She learnt words such as up, open, tickle, go out, come etc.                                                

Conclusion                                                                                                                                 Choice of sign language good as it allowed Washoe to communicate with her companions Chimpanzees can learn a number of words and communicate using them, and the older Washoe got, the quicker she learnt signs.                                                                                                       But the Gardners are reluctant to say whether Washoe has a complete langauge. 

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Evaluating Methodology

Method Case study                                                                                                                              + True insight into behavior and explanations, idiographic so more time to monitor closely - Washoe may be unique so hard to generalise to other animals or chimps

Ethics                                                                                                                                                   + No harm, excellent care, attention                                                                                                      - No consent, not in natural habitat, could be considered unatural to raise chimp like man  - No benefit to society  

Reliability                                                                                                                                             + Had to use sign 15 days consecutively, 2 observers (inter-rater reliability), outside parties observed.                                                                                                                                              + Scientific records, easy to replicate, strict records, objective.                          

Validity                                                                                                                                                 + All researchers knew ASL, wouldnt make mistake, both qual and quant data produced                                                                                                             

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Alt Evidence

Loulis - Adopted mother was Wahoe, caretakers would not sign when Loulis was present except for 7 key signs, (who,want,where,whice,name,that and sign). All sign language learnt by Loulis was taught by other chimpanzees and Washoe. Learnt more than 50 signs watching other chimps.         SUPPORTS - shows chimps are able to sign language and that chimps arent unique

Noam Chompsky - LAD organ in brain, produces and acquires language, bilogically programmed for a young age. Non - humans unable to acuire language as they dont have LAD.                            CONTRADICTS - G+G found Washoe was able to learn language as they do not have LAD and used it spontaneously through medium of ASL and there language is not unique to humans.

Hayes and Hayes - Vicky, learnt 4 words in 6 years, mama, papa, cup and up.                                  SUPPORT G+G as it shows chimp was able to learn some words but ultimately chimps learnt language better with the use of ASL.

Bryan - Claimed different vocal apparus to humans. Only make noise when stressed/excited.          DEVELOPS - shows ASL best way to learn and teach chimps language.

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