Child Psychology - Bowlby's 44 thieves study (1944)

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  • Created by: Rebekah
  • Created on: 05-02-15 11:18
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  • Bowlby's 44 thieves study (1944)
    • AIM
      • To study teenage criminals with affectionless psychopathy to see if they are more likely to have an early separation than those who did not display signs of AP.
        • To see if there was an association between delinquency and maternal deprivation.
    • SAMPLE
      • Main sample = 31 Boys & 13 Girls
        • Experimental group: 44 teenagers who were referred to the Child Guidance Clinic, London
      • Control sample = 34 Boys & 10 Girls
        • Control group: 44 non delinquent teens from the same clinic but for emotional problems, not crime
      • Interviews with families:
        • To establish whether the thieves had had prolonged early separations from the primary caregiver within the first 2 years of life.
      • Interviews with teenagers
        • To identify individual characters
          • 3 types of delinquency: 1) those who had been unstable for years 2) those who had sudden shock such as bereavement 3) those who had behaved in an unusual manner
      • Assessments
        • 1) intelligence by mental tests 2) emotional tests of attitude 3) social worker looked at preliminary psychiatric history
      • Bowlby diagnosed AP where there was a lack of affection to others, or a lack of guilty or shame at their actions, and empathy for their victims
      • Of the 14 children from the main group identified as AP's, 12 had experienced prolonged separation of more than 6 months from their mothers in the first 2 years of their life.
      • Only 5 of the 30 delinquent children not classified as AP's had experienced separations.
      • Of the 44 people in the non-delinquent control group, only 2 had experienced prolonged separations and none of them were AP's.
        • The young criminals who had a prolonged separation in their first two years of life were several times more likely to exhibit AP than those who had no such separation. This provides strong support for Bowlby's deprivation hypothesis.
          • Concluded that maternal deprivation experienced when young affects later adult behaviour and the potential for criminality.
      • Gathered a lot of detail both qualitative and quantitative from multiple sources using different research methods so data = in-depth, rich and valid.
        • Control group of the same size from the same clinic matched to the juvenile thieves was used so that the findings of the thieving group could be compared to those of the control group.
      • Bowlby himself has suggested that findings would be improved if he had a second control group to consist of 'normal' children as the control group in this study from the clinic had emotional problems
        • Bowlby investigated IQ, emotional state, age and experiences with the mother, but there are other important factors in a child's development which should have been looked into such as the relationship with the father and school experiences.


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