Gua, the chimpanzee raised as a human baby

The history of psychology is replete with unusual studies and experiments which would hardly be justified or which would be possible today. The reason is that many of these studies were based on experimentation with young children, adolescents, or people with some form of mental or psychiatric disorder, all of whom were unable to decide or understand the consequences. effects.

One of these experiments was that of the chimpanzee Gua, carried out by psychologist WN Kellogg. This is an investigation of the behavior and learning in which Gua grew up for months in a family, with the intention of verifying whether the chimpanzee could be educated like the rest of the children.

    As Father and Daughter: Chimpanzee Gua and WN Kellogg

    In the 1930s, Winthrop N. Kellogg, a psychologist and professor at Columbia University specializing in the processes of conditioning, learning and human behavior, set out to study the differences between animals and humans in terms of learning and behavior.

    To do this, Kellogg adopted a two-month-old female chimpanzee and introduced her to his home with the intention of educating her in the same way he did with his son Donald, who at that time was not getting over. year of age. For a few months, Kellog raised them like they were brothers, Giving the same attention, affection and care to each of them in order to contemplate and analyze the evolution and learning of both.

    The animal chosen for the study was awarded in Gua’s name and, unbeknownst to him, his aim was to reveal just how much of a distinction between the processes and advancements of learning between an animal and a human.

    The result: something unexpected

    After nine months of living together, the results were not at all up to those expected by Kellogg, because, in short, Gua ended up “humanizing” him to the point of learning faster and more effectively than his son., And the little one ended up developing chimpanzee behaviors like trying all things with his mouth or making howls and growls like Gua.

    The little one’s learning degree was such that much of the idioms and habits he had learned from Gua would remain intact throughout his life.

    The product of this research materialized with the book The Apelle and the Child, published in 1931 and which was not without criticism and controversy. In his text, Kellogg details each of the learning activities and games he performed with the two, as well as the effects they had on the little ones.

    As a result, the American psychologist received very stubborn and ruthless criticisms which they accused him of subjecting his son and the animal to an experiment that would leave a mark on both of them for life. The impact of the criticism took its toll on Kellogg, who eventually admitted he was wrong.

      How did the experience between reproduction and the baby develop?

      At the start of the research, she focused on collecting data on the physical condition of Gua and little Donald. Kellogg and his wife, along with a group of researchers, were engaged in collecting data such as weight, blood pressure or reflexes, and then start with learning activities and tests.

      Over the next 9 months, Kellogg and his wife raised Guia the same way they raised their son, as if they were brothers. Record the data in pictures and describe in detail each of the changes or progress in each of the little ones.

      The data obtained by Kellogg and his team focused on aspects such as memory, the ability to draw, vocalization or language, manual dexterity, locomotion, problem solving, fear and dread reactions. , obedience and even the ability to respond to tickling.

      What were the results?

      During the course of the study, Kellogg observed how Gua developed a fascinating ability to adapt to a human environment, To the point of obeying orders and following directions much better than his “brother” Donald. Others of the many behaviors Gua learned related to the ability to ask for a person, hug other people, and even learn to eat on her own in the same way humans do or to bathe.

      On the other hand, Donald possessed one defining trait: he was a much better imitator. While Gua to the advanced student, who was able to discover before Donald the functions and uses of objects and showed a better understanding of the different games and activities they practiced, the little human was only concerned with imitating or reproduce what the chimpanzee was doing.

      As a result, little Donald also began to imitate some of Gua’s gestures, behaviors, and language, using growls, snores, and animal noises. experience a noticeable delay in language development and notable communication difficulties. This is one of the reasons why, despite Gua’s advances, Kellogg decided to stop the experiment after nine months of testing. After this period, she separated the two “brothers” and Gua was sent back to the Orange Park Zoo, where she was extracted and was unable to adapt, dying the following year.

      As for Donald, he was already 19 months old at the end of the experiment and yet he could only express a small number of words, whereas any child his age should have at least a repertoire of half a cent and be able to start to form sentences and sentences. Fortunately, he subsequently made up for this inconvenience and even pursued a university education.

      What conclusions were drawn from this study?

      Regarding learning processes, Kellogg concluded that, at least during childhood, children are very influential and that in its early years, its reasoning and intelligence skills can be compared to those of an intelligent animal whose characteristics are comparable to those of a chimpanzee.

      However, later these paths diverge, with humans being able to develop a much higher level of intelligence and abilities.

      As for the intellectual development of the chimpanzee, Kellogg’s methods may reflect that these, in the first months of life, have the ability to develop language analogous to humans, although they are unable to speak. Likewise, although these are adept at crafting simple tools, there is an abysmal difference in the ability to conceive between chimpanzees and humans.

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