Gardner and Gardner- Findings and Conclusions

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Findings:

WASHOE'S PERFORMANCE AFTER 21 MONTHS 

  • Vocabularly = 30 words
  • These met criteria set by G+G (3 observers had to report Washoe sign spontaneously and appropriately) 
  • Earliest Signs = Demands
  • Later Signs = Object Names

7 MONTHS = 4 SIGNS

14 MONTHS = 13 SIGNS

21 MONTHS = 30 SIGNS

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Findings:

EXAMPLES OF THE WAYS WASHOE USED WORDS:

  • MORE - asked to continue activity (Tickling)
  • DRINK - asking for water (Indicate Pop --> 'Drink' + 'Sugar')
  • SORRY - after biting or when someone was hurt

 

 

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Findings:

LIKE LANGUAGE ACQUISITION IN HUMAN CHILDREN

  • DIFFERENTIATING
  • Washoe initially used 'Flower' = smells (Cooking)
  • Learned to discriminate consistently between the two (Smell + Flower)
  • TRANSFER
  • Learned to generalise from 1 thing to the class of objects
  • (Sign 'Dog' even if she couldn't see it but could only hear it)
  • COMBINING SIGNS
  • Combine 2 or 3 signs (once she has about 8 signs in her repertoire)
  • represented more complex meanings (LISTEN DOG - refer to a barking dog)
  • Researchers combined signs themselves (Washoe was intimidating them)
  • Produced her own Novel situations (FOOD DRINK - open the fridge)
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Conclusions:

  • CONCUSIONS ABOUT ACQUIRING HUMAN LANGUAGE

 

  • Gardners felt it was against their spirit of research to answer this
  • Question can only be answered IF there is a clear way to distinguish between one class of communicative behaviour that can be called language, and another that cannot
  • STUDY SHOWED THAT:
  • Chimps can be taught more than a few words (Previous studies = up to 4 words)
  • Sign Language = appropriate medium of communication for the chimpanzee
  • Washoe's ability to combine 2+3 words and spontaneously transfer use of signs for specific things to general --> MORE could be accomplished in furthur phases
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Conclusions:

PROBLEMS WITH TESTING WASHOE

  • DIFFICULTY = Finding a reliable way to test Washoe's ability to use language in a meaningful way
  • One Way --> place a object in a box with a window
  • Researcher = doesn't know what the object is + could ask Washoe what she sees
  • ONLY WORK for items small enough to fit in box

GARDNERS did this successfully in later work

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