44 Thieves Study

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44 Thieves Study (Bowlby, 1944) John Bowlby believed that the relationship between the infant and its mother during the first five years of life was most crucial to socialization. He believed that disruption of this primary relationship could lead to a higher incidence of juvenile delinquency, emotional difficulties and antisocial behavior. To support his hypothesis, he studied 44 adolescent juvenile delinquents in a child guidance clinic. Aim: To investigate the effects of maternal deprivation on people in order to see whether delinquents have suffered deprivation. According to the Maternal Deprivation Hypothesis, breaking the maternal bond with the child during the early stages of its life is likely to have serious effects on its intellectual, social and emotional development. Procedure: Bowlby interviewed 44 adolescents who were referred to a child protection program in London because of stealing- i.e. they were thieves. Bowlby selected another group of 44 children to act as ‘controls’. N.b. controls: individuals referred to clinic because of emotional problems, but not yet committed any crimes. He interviewed the parents from both groups to state whether their children had experienced separation during the critical period and for how long. [pic]Findings: More than half of the juvenile thieves had been separated from their mothers for longer than six months during their first five years. In the control group only two had had such a separation. He also found several of the young thieves (32%) showed 'affectionless psychopathy' (they were not able to care about or feel affection for others). None of the control group were affectionless psychopaths. In a later paper, he reported that 60 children who had spent time apart from their mothers in a tuberculosis sanatorium before the age of 4 showed lower achievement in school. Conclusion: Affectionless
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