Child Psychology Studies
Bowlby 44 Thieves
o To determine whether there is a correlation between maternal deprivation in infancy and adolescent delinquency.
o Carried out from 1936 to 1939 in London Child Guidance Clinic
o When children came to the clinic, they were given mental tests to measure intelligence and were also assessed for their emotional attitudes. Bowlby was interested in social, emotional and intellectual development.
o A social worker used a 1-hour interview to log the child’s history and Bowlby then interviewed both the child and the mother. The information given by the mother helped him establish whether the child had experienced separation in early life and for how long. A case conference was held to reach an initial diagnosis and then further data were gathered using more interviews.
o This was not so much an academic study as an assessment for treatment, though the data were used to draw academic conclusions
o Only a few case studies were used, as it was time-consuming to log and collect the data. Bowlby’s study would be improved by having a similar amount of data about children who were not at the clinic. The 44 children studied were referred to the clinic by several agencies for various reasons, 22 of them by the child’s school. There was a control group of 44 children who were at the clinic but not thieves.
o Interviews, case histories and psychological testing to look for patterns in the backgrounds of young people at the clinic.
· Results and Conclusions
o Bowlby sorted the thieves into six types of character. Of the 44 thieves, 42 had an abnormal character type. The study outlines in detail all the character types but only group E, the affectionless type, is considered here, as it is the one of interest in this context.
o Fourteen of the children had an affectionless character – a lack of warmth or feeling for anyone. Bowlby thought that such children had experienced emotional loss of their mother or primary caregiver early in their lives and that this had affected their character. Misery was behind the mask.
o There were no affectionless characters in the control group.
o The findings that 13 of the 14 affectionless young people were thieves seemed conclusive evidence that affectionless psychopathy can lead to stealing and, more generally and importantly, that suffering emotional loss of mother early in life leads to antisocial behaviour and emotional problems.
§ A lot of in-depth and detailed data were gathered using different research methods, and both qualitative and quantitative data were collected, so the data are likely to be valid if they agree with one another.
§ There was a matched control group of children who were also in the clinic but were not thieves, which provided a useful baseline measure.
§ There were no…