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Discuss the Gardeners' chimp study in terms of validity and reliability

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Introduction

Gardner and Gardner Teaching sign language to a chimpanzee Discuss the Gardeners' chimp study in terms of validity and reliability The study by the Gardner's educated psychologists about how they should conduct their studies. Also through negative methodology the study showed the importance of sustaining validity in a study. Many aspects of the study can be replicated in order to increase validity of a study, and also many considerations are highlighted through the Gardners' study. According to Gardner and Gardner, 'the results of project Washoe presented the first serious challenge to the doctrine that only human beings have language'. This statement meant that the Gardner's firmly believed that there study sustained a high level of both reliability and validity, which in turn they believed increased the generalisability of the study. The aim of the study was to demonstrate that a chimpanzee does has the capability to use human language. This study was conducted in order to explore the possibility of communicating with animals. Everyone agrees that animals can communicate with each other; the disagreement, which Gardner and Gardner wished to explore, was whether they can use something similar to human language to do this. ...read more.

Middle

Washoe life was manipulated around the study, and so a generalised theory of ability of chimpanzees would be hindered-as not all chimpanzees grow up in carefully controlled environments. This idea meant that the methodological approach of using as young chimp as possible was also questioned. The independent variable of the study can be thought of as the training programme itself, and the dependant variable was Washoe's actual use of the signs. Gardners' laboratory based experiment mean that close control over the independent variable could be sustained throughout the 32 months of experimenting. The use of standardised procedures in order to teach Washoe and, to some extent, record the results meant that the study could be labelled reliable. Records were kept about the amount of signing behaviour and number of signs used. A sign was recorded if it was reported by three different observers, as having occurred in an appropriate context and spontaneously (i.e. with no prompting other than a question such as "what is it?" or "what do you want?"). ...read more.

Conclusion

This in turn means that the validity of the study is questioned, and also that Gardners' statement about language being unique to humans is not actually answered by the study. This shows the importance to further psychological studies, about the importance of sustaining ecological validity, as what is essential in order to eliminate doubts is the testing of a chimp learning language in a less structured, more natural context. Although the reliability of the study is widely accepted, the validity is constantly questioned. Not all psychologists agree that Washoe did acquire language. The debate centres on the difficulty of defining language. By the end of the 32nd month, Washoe had proven that she had acquired semanticity, ability to demonstrate displacement, and was creative in words as when she combined words. But, one criterion, which is used as a demonstration of language, is structure dependence. Washoe did not always seem to care about 'sign order.' This lack of ability supports the argument that only humans have the innate propensity to acquire language, and that the study was merely reiterating the demand characteristics that Washoe was encouraged to perform, and so, arguably, was invalid in proving its aim. Huraira Syed L6SD - 1 - ...read more.

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