Bowlby (1944) - Classic Evidence (Psychodynamic)

  • Created by: chlopayne
  • Created on: 16-04-19 17:30
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  • Bowlby (1944) - 44 Juvenile Thieves
    • Argued that prolonged separation from the mother during childhood can cause long lasting psychological problems.
      • Bowlby noted 9/10 criminal cases is theft - a target amount being young people.
        • Bowlby aimed to see if there was an association between delinquent behaviour and separation from the mother.
          • Case study on 44 thieves and comparison groups of 44 'normal' children.
    • Methodology
      • Case study on 44 thieves and comparison groups of 44 'normal' children.
      • 44 thieves: children where stealing was a problem and referred to Child Guidance Clinic.
        • Over half were under the age of 11. 31 boys and 13 girls - unusual (10 boys to 1 girl).
        • The Binet Scale was used to assess children's intelligence, generally average or above.
      • Control group: 44 children from the same clinic, who had not stolen were chosen. Same age, intelligence and economic status.
      • The mothers: the mothers of both groups were involved in the study to give background of the children.
    • Procedures
      • Opportunity sampling
      • Initial examination (2 hours) : children were given mental tests to assess intelligence and emotional attitude.
        • Social workers interviews children mothers about childs history.
          • This was reported to Bowlby, he then interviewed the child.
            • Finally, they all came together and discussed conclusions.
      • Therapy: Children met with the psychiatrist weekly over 6 months+.
        • Mothers talked problems with the social worker.
          • Enabled a detailed case history to be recorded.
            • Diagnose child's emotional problems.
    • Findings
      • 44 thieves were categorised into six groups - normal, depressed, circular, hyperthymic, affectionless + schizoid.
        • There was a difference between the type of characters found in the criminal group and the control group.
      • Thieves in the affection less group would steal more consistently and seriously.
        • 14 children classified as affection less, 12 experienced separations from mothers.
          • 27 thieves who didn't experience separation, 17 had poor relationships with mothers.
            • Six of the thieves had issues with fathers.
      • No affection less characters amongst the controls.
        • Only two of the control group had experienced prolonged separations.
          • Control group report similar numbers of poor relationships, leads to emotional problems. Cannot completely account for criminal activity,
      • Bowlby found traumatic events in childhood could account to delinquent behaviour. 11 cases where  a traumatic event lead to stealing.
      • Genetics could also be a factor. 4 of the thieves had psychotic parents. 11 thieves had one neurotic parent. 3 had relatives with epilepsy.
    • Evaluation
      • Methodology + procedures
        • No causal findings. May be other factors included.
        • Biased data
          • Data is rich, in depth and qualitative. Argued it has high ecological validity.
          • Data may lack validity. Vulnerable to researcher bias, Bowlby did much of the research + diagnoses.
          • No use of double blind design. He may have over reported incidents of separation in the thief group.
          • Nature of study means it can not be replicated and lacks reliability.
        • The sample: not representative- majority of thieves aren't referred to clinics. Amount of boys and girls weren't representative
          • The sample: only those children who had been caught thieving.
          • Control group were patients at the clinic he worked at. These children suffered from psychological and emotional issues.
      • Ethical issues
        • Social implications; his study highlighted importance of maternal care. More rights for mothers.
          • However, emphasis on the mother means any problems could be blamed on the mother.
            • Oversimplification, mental illness and emotional problems are complex.
    • Conclusions
      • Genetic factors: Children who have parents /  grandparents with mental illness are more likely to have health problems and develop criminal behaviour.
        • Data is limited. Evidence of mental health of parents is incomplete. Even with relevant information, it would be impossible to separate inherited factors to influence from parents.
          • Cannot conclusively state whether behaviour is due to influence of genes or influence of unstable parents.
      • Early home environment: His conclusions focus on the influence of childhood experiences.
        • Experiences of thieves in early and later childhood experiences could explain delinquent behaviour.
          • Argued that problems with forming a good relationship with the mother would affect the development of the superego.
      • Implications for treatment: slow and difficult. Main reason is because condition has been present in the child for several years and an established part of their psychology.


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