Describe and evaluate Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation 12 mark essay plan

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Describe and evaluate Bowlby's theory of maternal deprivation (12 marks)
Point 1 Maternal deprivation
Separation versus Deprivation
o Separation is when the child isn't in the presence of the primary attachment
figure, this only becomes a problem if a child is then deprived e.g. lose an
element of her care
o Brief separations aren't significant however extended separations can lead to
deprivation which causes harm
Critical period
o Bowlby saw first two years of your life as the critical period for psychological
o If separated from their mother for an extended period of time during critical
period, psychological damage is inevitable
Effects on development
o Intellectual development
If deprived for too long during critical period they would suffer
retardation ­ low IQ shown in Goldfarbs study, children raised in
institutions had lower IQ than those who hadn't
o Emotional development
Bowlby identified affectionless psychopathy as the inability to
experience guilt or strong emotion for others
This prevents the person developing normal relationships and is
associated with criminality
Point 2 Bowlby's 44 thieves study
Examined the link between affectionless psychopathy and maternal deprivation
o 44 criminal teenagers accused of stealing
o All `thieves' were interviewed for signs of affectionless psychopathy
characterised as a lack of affection, lack of guilt about their reactions and lack
of empathy for their victims
o Families were also interviewed to see if they'd had prolonged separations
from their children (thieves)
o Control group ­ non criminal but emotionally disturbed young people was set
up to see how often maternal deprivation occurred in the children who were
not thieves
o 14/44 criminals were affectionless psychopaths
o 12/14 experienced prolonged separation within first two years
o 5/44 remaining thieves had prolonged separation in their first 2 years

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AO2 Evaluation
Point 1 Evidence may be poor
Bowlby got evidence from a range of places
However these were all flawed
o War orphans were traumatised
o Poor after care
o Children growing up in poor quality institutions were deprived of basic care
o 44 thieves ­ Bowlby carried out assessments so could be biased, found what
he wanted to find
Point 2 Counterevidence
Hilda Lewis (1954) partially replicated the 44 thieves study on a larger scale, looking
at 500 young people.…read more


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