Discuss Research into the Effects of Privation

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There has been much research into the effects of privation and whether these
effects can be reversed. This research takes the form of case studies and longitudinal
One case study that demonstrates the effects of extreme privation would be that of
Genie. She was found at the age of 13 having been kept in virtual isolation and being cruelly
treated by her parents. When found her development was severely retarded, she walked
awkwardly and could only eat baby food.
In the case of Genie, she didn't show a return to normal development and so this
case study suggests that the effects of privation aren't reversible. However it is difficult to
be absolutely certain of this conclusion as Genie showed steady development improvement
when living with her therapist, David Rigler, and his family. But when this care was cut short
her situation deteriorated again so perhaps with consistent and sensitive care she would
have made a full recovery.
Another case study is that of two Czech twins who had lived in an institution for 18
months before going away to live with their father and step mother. They were found at the
age of 7 and it was discovered that they had grown up in a small unheated closet and were
regularly beaten.
The findings from this case study conflict with those in the case of Genie as the
twins in a follow up study 7 years later showed no psychopathic symptoms or unusual
behaviour and by the age of 20 showed above average intelligence and developed healthy,
heterosexual relationships.

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The problem with these case studies is that although they have high ecological
validity, they lack external validity and so results can't be generalised as individuals'
environments are very different. For example we can't immediate conclude that the effects
of privation are reversible by looking at the Czech twins. Their situation is very different to
Genie's as they had each other and perhaps didn't start their lives in privation as the first 18
months were in institutionalised care.…read more

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The findings of this study
may have also been affected by attrition which is common in longitudinal studies. The people
that did drop out may have done so because they were less adjusted od less motivated, this
would leave a biased sample so we must be careful with how the findings are generalised.…read more


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