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Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis
Bowlby published this theory before publishing his attachment theory.
The maternal deprivation hypothesis stated that if an infant was unable to develop a `warm,
intimate and continuous relationship with his mother' then the child would have difficult
forming relationships with other people and be at risk of behavioural disorders.
There are three important things:
1. Focuses on a continuous relationship between child and mother
2. The continuous relationship must occur during a critical period before the age of 2 ½ years,
or are more likely to become emotionally disturbed
3. The relationship does not have to be between the biological mother- a mother substitute
Bowlby's Thieves (1944):
Aim: To test the maternal deprivation hypothesis, i.e. to see if frequent early separations were
associated with a risk of behavioural disorders, in particular a disorder named, `affectionless
88 children, ranging from 5 to 16, who had been referred to the child guidance clinic where
44 of the children had been referred to the clinic because of stealing (the thieves). Bowlby
identified 16 of these thieves as `affectionless psychopaths'
The remaining 44 children had not committed any crimes. They were emotionally
maladjusted but did not display antisocial behaviour.
Bowlby interviewed the children and their families and was able to create a record of
their early life experiences
86% of those thieves diagnosed as affectionless psychopaths had experienced early and
17% of the other thieves who weren't classified as affectionless psychopaths had
experienced such separations.
4% of the control group (non-thieves) had experienced early and frequent separations.
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These findings suggest a link between early separations and later social and emotional
The case study gathered a lot of detail, Historically biased
both qualitative and quantitative, from There could have been other extraneous
multiple sources using different variables- i.e. location, ethnicity,
research methods, so the data were education etc.…read more