Robertson and Robertson (1967-1973)

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Robertson and Robertson (1967-1973)
Made a series of films of young children in situations where they were separated from their primary
caregiver. Observational research.
Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate:
Jane, Lucy, Thomas and Kate were all under the age of three and placed in foster care for a few weeks with
the Robertson's while their mothers were in hospital.
The Robertson's maintained a high level of substitute emotional care and keep routines similar to those at
Visits for the fathers were arranged regularly to maintain emotional links with home.
All the children seemed to adjust well - showing some signs of distress. All slept well and did not reject their
mothers at reunion.
Some were reluctant to part with the foster mother, showing the formation of good emotional bonds.
John, placed in a residential nursery for nine days while his mother was in hospital having a baby.
Father visited regularly.
In the first two days, the film shows John behaving normally.
Gradually, this changes as he tries to get attention from the nurses but cannot compete with the more
assertive children.
When John fails to find anyone who will respond to him, he seeks comfort from an over-sized teddy bear but
isn't enough.
As the days go by, he begins to break down and refuses to eat and drink, stops playing, cries a lot and gives
up trying to get the nurses' attention.
Greets the father enthusiastically for the first week but by the second week, he just sits there quietly without
saying anything.
For long periods of the day, John lies cuddling the bear with his thumb in his mouth.
On the ninth day, when his mother came to take him home, John screams and struggles to get away from
For months afterwards, John continued to have outbursts of anger towards his mother.
Strengths Weaknesses

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Valid- as all the children would have acted With both sets of research of the 4 children
how they felt- it would have been a natural and john, john was only one case so could
reaction not generalise the findings
Ecologically valid- all were given more or Only 5 children in total were studied
less the same emotional care and other Wouldn't have been very reliable because it
needs as they normally would have done at was a case study and many children with
home…read more


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