Perhaps the nearest we can get to actually doing the forbidden experiment is the work of Harry Harlow, an American psychologist who investigated what happens when you deprive an infant monkey of the company of other monkeys.
Specifically, Harlow was interested in the attachments made between mother and child. He conducted a variety of experiments, but his most famous involved offering infant rhesus monkeys the choice of a wire-frame mother, who provided food and a terry-cloth mother, who was soft. Harlow found that the infant monkeys preferred the company of the soft cloth mother and would only venture to the wire-frame mother, to feed.
Harlow also investigated what effect complete isolation had on a baby rhesus monkey. He found that monkeys raised without a mother or playmates, grew to be socially incompetent and were often unsuccessful at mating. Those that did mate, were neglectful of their offspring.
Finally, from The Why Files:
The theme of Harlow's work...is that "You were not really a monkey unless you were raised in an interactive monkey environment."
Isn't that interesting? So if not even a monkey is really a monkey without other monkeys, it follows that without other humans to interact with, a human baby would be no different. Although Harlow's work probably wouldn't get past an ethics board today, it's fascinating science which shows us that despite the power of the genome, without specific kinds of nurture, modern human nature, would not develop.Go Top