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There are many studies done by psychologists showing some of the major impacts of early experiences and how they affect a child's later development. But the real question is does the experience actually affect the child's development?

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Introduction

Critically Consider the Impact of Early Experience on Later Development There are many studies done by psychologists showing some of the major impacts of early experiences and how they affect a child's later development. But the real question is does the experience actually affect the child's development? One of the psychologists who believed this was true was Bowlby and the study he done on the 44 thieves (children who had problems of stealing). This study compared children who were affectionless psychopaths and children who were not affectionless psychopaths and he found that 86% of those children had suffered, 'early and prolonged separations from their mothers'. Bowlby suggested that this related to later social maladjustment. This study did show that early experience affected the child's later development because the children grew up with major behavioural disorders. This study was also the basis of Bowlby's Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis. The hypothesis derived by Bowlby suggested that if an infant were unable to form a warm, close and continuous relationship with the mother then that child would have trouble forming relationships with other people in the future. Also the child would be at risk of behavioural problems just like the children In the 44 thieves study. There were many criticisms towards this hypothesis such as other forms of deprivation may have caused the negative behaviour e.g. ...read more.

Middle

They were released at seven years of age and could hardly walk and had poor speech. Though when the correct care was given they became well adjusted and cognitive able. Both these cases indicate that despite the extreme emotional and physical deprivation suffered as children, positive attention and care would largely repair this damage and allow them to develop into well adjusted adults. This suggests that Bowlby's hypothesis was wrong as he did not mention anything about recovery from the early experience, but only talked about the negative impacts. The third case was done by Curtiss (1977) on a girl called Genie. Genie had a history of isolation, neglect and physical restraint, as she was kept strapped to a potty in the attic by her father. She was punished if she made a sound. She was released at 13 years of age to a foster home and was described to have a much younger appearance, was primitive, unsocialised and 'hardly human'. Genie never managed to achieve social language or adjustment. To a certain extent this does agree with what Bowlby said but we also have to consider the age of release. In the other two cases there were positive outcomes because Isabelle and the twins were released at around the age of 7 whereas Genie had been released at 13, so age of release may be a mitigating factor. ...read more.

Conclusion

All of the above studies either give evidence for the fact that experience does or does not affect a child's later development. All the study's lead back to the important hypothesis made by Bowlby and whether they agree or disagree with it. The last study I have chosen to mention is that of Quinton et al (1985). They wanted to find out whether children deprived of parental care became depriving parents themselves. They observed one group of women brought up in care, interacting with their children and compared them to a group of non-institutionalised mothers. The women brought up in care were less sensitive, supportive and less warm towards their children. This could be explained in terms of their actual deprived childhoods or various experiences the women had as a result of their early upbringing. This study tends to outline what Schaffer mentioned: 'Early experiences... do not necessarily produce irreversible effects just because they are early...' So yet again, this illustrates the fact that continuing poor experiences are associated with poor recovery, but the sooner the child's care is improved then the sooner recovery can occur. Early experiences do not necessarily affect later development as there is always a chance of recovery. So in conclusion early deprivation does not give enough cause and effect towards later maladjustment. Similarly Clarke and Clarke (!998) said 'the evidence is firm, while there is a range of outcomes, early social experience by itself does not predestine the future.' ...read more.

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