Bowlby - 44 thieves

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  • BOWLBY - 44 THIEVES - 1946
    • Aim
      • Provide evidence to support his maternal deprivation hypothesis
      • To see if there is a link between maternal deprivation and delinquency
    • Design
      • Retrospective study
        • Comparing experiences of prolonged separation from mother under the age of 5
          • Group of 44 thieves and a matched group of 44 emotionally disturbed youngsters who had committed no crimes
    • Sample
      • 44 thieves attending Tavistock Clinic
        • Referred in different ways
          • 22 by schools
          • 2 by schools but at parent's request
          • 8 directly by parents
          • 3 as court orders
          • 9 by probation officers
        • 50% described as chronic and serious offenders
        • 16% had been stealing for more than 3 years
        • Nearly 20% only been involved in stealing a few times
        • 10% only involved in 1 incident
        • 34% under 9 years old
        • 50'% under 11 years old
          • only 1 been charged
      • Control group
        • 44 maladjusted children
          • Didn't steal or commit other crimes
          • Matched on age and intelligence
      • 75% male & 25% female
        • not representative of normal clinic intake - 60% male, 40% female
      • Intelligence was relatively high in both groups
        • About a third above average
    • Procedure
      • Unstructured interviews
        • Qualitative data about childhood
      • IQ tests
      • Psychiatric assessments with a social worker
      • Bowlby interviewed boys and their mothers
        • Childhood experiences of separation
        • Effects on child's relationships
      • Case conferences
        • Tentative diagnoses made
      • Follow up interviews
      • Psychotherapy provided
      • Checklist to diagnose affectionless psychopathy
        • Inability to experience emotionally intense relationships
        • Lack of affectionate behaviour
        • Lack of guilt and remorse when causing distress to others
    • Results
      • Thieves
        • 32% affectionless psychopaths
          • 86% experienced early separation
        • 20% depressed
        • Less than 5% classed as normal
        • 17% without affectionless psychopathy experiences maternal deprivation
      • Control group
        • 0% affectionless psychopaths
        • 30% depressed
        • 20% overly conscientious
        • 4% experienced separations during critical period
    • Conclusions
      • Maternal deprivation can have severe and potentially long term effects on emotional development
      • Bowlby said once attachment was broken, negative effects could not be reversed
    • Criticisms
      • Generalisability
        • sample wasnt representative of normal clinic intake
        • Case study
          • unique findings
            • hard to generalise
      • Validity
        • Reconstructive memory
          • Retrospective data
        • Social desirability bias
          • Not answer honestly to show themselves in a better light
        • Researcher bias
          • Bowlby did interviews knowing who was in which group
      • Cause and effect
        • Correlational
          • cannot find cause and effect

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