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Discuss evidence which supports Bowlbys maternal deprivation hypothesis

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Introduction

Discuss evidence which supports Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis (18 marks) The term maternal deprivation refers to the idea of an infants bond with their mother being disrupted or broken after a bond had been formed. Evidence for the negative effects of this disruption comes from Bowlby's 44 Juvenile thieves study. Bowlby recorded case histories of the boys he saw at the London guidance clinic where he worked. He compared a sample of 44 'thieves' to 44 youths with no criminal record. Of the thieves 14 were classed as affectionless psychopaths with no remorse for their actions or concern for others. They also had difficulty forming relationships with others. The key factor affecting this was a disrupted bond in childhood. ...read more.

Middle

He relied on the memories of the juveniles and their mothers. It may therefore be inaccurate due to the fact that memory is fallible. It may be that there was a correlation between deprivation and the behaviour in his sample but we cannot be sure that one always leads to the other. It may have been caused by other factors such as family conflict. Despite these criticisms Bowlby's work does add to other areas of this theory such as the notion of an 'Internal Working Model'. This suggests that infants create a template early on in life of how relationships should be based on their parents relationship with them. This supports Bowlby's findings that the juveniles in questions found it hard to forms bonds with others. ...read more.

Conclusion

Rutter also criticised Bowlby's evidence for deprivation by looking at how the bond was broken. He argued Bowlby always assumed that a broken bond would always affect the development of the child involved. He identified that a child who, for example, was separated from its mother due to longstanding illness or death and the child separated due to other factors such as a psychological disorder were affected differently. His evidence for this came from a large sample of 2000+ boys aged 9-12. He looked at the relationship between separation and delinquency. He found that a separation due to death or illness had no correlation to later delinquency. This questions the depth of Bowlby's findings. A separation due to a psychological disorder was 4x more likely to affect the child's future behaviour in a bad way. ...read more.

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