Effects of deprivation

as psychology attachment


HideShow resource information

Short term deprivation

Brief, temporary separation from attachment figures.

Components of distress:

Protest: Outward and immediate response to separation. Normaly shows crying, screaming and kicking.

Despair: Calm and apathetic, anger and fear are still felt inwards. They respond little to offers of comfort, instead they comfort themselves by thumb sucking

Detachment: The child starts to respond to people again but treats everyone wearily. Rejection and anger at the caregiver upon their return is common.

1 of 5

Robertson & Robertson 1969

Filmed children to find out how brief separation affects childrens mental state and psychological development.

One child John (17 months) who enjoyed a close and stable relationship with his mother, was left in a residential nursery for 9 days whilst his mother was in hospital having a baby. They observed his behaviour.

He experienced extreme distress, he was grieving for his absent mother.

R&R believed that Johns distress was a mixture of:

  • Loss of his mother
  • Strange enviornment & routines
  • Multiple caregivers
  • Lack of a mother substitute

On his mothers return he threw a tantrum and stuggled free of her.

2 of 5

Evaluation of short term deprivation (R&R)

  • Robertson x2's work led to drastic changes in hospital practices. Nurses' shifts were designed so they had regular contact with the same children. This enabled them to form alternative bonds during the hospitalisation.
  • They found that short-term separation does not necessarily lead to distress, they found that a good substitute care could minimise the effects of separation.
  • The study was limited, as separation cannot be manipulated as an independent variable, and so cause and effect cannot be inferred.
3 of 5

Long term deprivation

Prolonged or permanent separations from attachment figures.

Bowlby 1944 The 44 thieves

He wanted to establish a cause and effect relationship between maternal deprivation and emotional maladjustment based on observations of patients at his child guidance clinic.

An opportunity sample of 88 children selected from Bowlbys clinic, 44 controls with emotional problems and 44 who had been referred due to their stealing. Past and present case studies were used to asses expeirience of maternal separation.

32% of the thieves were affectionless psychopathy, 86% of these had experienced maternal separation before the age of 5. He concluded that maternal separation in early life caused permanent emotional damage, he diagnosed this condition as affectionless psychopathy.

4 of 5


  • It seems logical that long-term separation has a greater negative effect upon children's development than short-term separation and research backs this up.
  • The research was correlational and non-experimental: separation cannot be manipulated as an independent variable, so cause and effect cannot be inferred.
  • The study was vunerable to researcher bias as the findings may have been biased by his own epectations accidentally.
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Attachment resources »