Edexcel Psychology A2 - Child Psychology: Privation Studies

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  • Created by: Maria
  • Created on: 28-01-10 20:44


· One study into privation was Curtiss’s study of Genie. The aim of the study was to see whether the effects of privation were reversible in Genie’s case.

· At the start of the study Genie was 13. She had difficulties in speaking and had problems with her motor skills. Although she could not speak, she did understand words which were spoken to her, and tried to imitate them. Researchers observed Genie, had weekly interviews with her mother, video-taped and recorded her actions and had daily doctor’s reports made on her. The interviews with Genie’s mother were discounted from the final results, as they were thought to be unreliable as she displayed demand characteristics. Psychometric testing was also used, for example language tests.

· Genie’s initial progress was good and her cognitive and intellectual development was good. Some activities were at the level of an 8 or 9 year old, but others were at the level of a 2 year old. Her language began to improve and she often asked about the environment around her. She was moved to a rehabilitation centre, and her development continued. However, her development was abnormal. For example, her responses were delayed when she was asked to do something. She also appeared lazy, and seemed to take the path of least effort.

· Curtiss concluded that while Genie did progress and develop, this development was not considered normal. This suggested that privation was not reversible, however much care and attention was provided.

ü A strength of Curtiss’s study of Genie was that the data was valid. This is because a large amount of in depth data was collected over the course of the study, including both qualitative and quantitative data. This ensures that the data can be cross checked, and that the methods accurately measured real life. The longitudinal method means that any demand characteristics which may have initially been displayed could not be sustained, and Genie’s behaviour was seen as natural and a representative of real life behaviours.

ü Another strength is that the study as a whole is ethical. Due to the nature of Genie’s background, it is vital that the study maintained her anonymity. The researchers gave Genie a pseudonym to ensure she could not be recognised, and her privacy was maintained after the study so that she could not be traced by journalists or other researchers.

r A weakness of Curtiss’s study of Genie is that the findings may not be accurate. This is because there was speculation about Genie’s mental state before the study. It was thought that Genie suffered from mental retardation, and as a result this could explain her poor development, as opposed to the effects of privation. Therefore, it is not known whether Genie would have recovered if she had been in a normal mental state.

r Another weakness is that there may be problems with Genies welfare during the study. Genie was abused before she was taken in by researchers, and after she was taken…


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