Douglas (1975) carried out a prospective longitudinal study of 5,000 children born during a 1-week period in 1946 in Great Britain.
These children were contacted every two years for the following 26 years and a record was kept of any pre-school hospitalisation and their adolescent behaviour was assessed. It was found that there was an increased risk of behaviour disturbances and poor reading in adolescence in children who had experienced a hospital admission of more than one week, or repeated admissions in a child under 4. This suggests that the effects of deprivation are negative thus, offering support for Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis. (AO1)However, Clarke ; Clarke (1976) studied the same data as Douglas and concluded that the reason for this was due to the fact that many of the children were hospitalised for things associated with disadvantaged homes (e.g. poor diet, poor hygiene and sanitation, etc.). Thus they concluded that it was not, as Douglas claimed, maternal deprivation that caused delinquency and poor reading in these adolescent children but the cause may well have been social deprivation.
(AO2)Douglas’s research can also be evaluated on a number of methodological points, for example: This study must be commended on the use of a very large sample size, however because participants were only drawn from children born during a 1-week period in 1946 in Great Britain it may not be representative and therefore the findings gained from the study may well lack external validity. Furthermore the study was observational and therefore no attempt was made to control variables so a cause-effect cannot be established and, indeed, it may well be another or other variables that have cause the effect (e.g. the child’s reaction to being placed in a very unfamiliar environment with unfamiliar people) rather than the deprivation. (AO2)Divorce involves more long-term deprivation than most incidences of hospitalisation and therefore may reveal much about the effects of long-term deprivation.
Cockett ; Tripp (1994) assessed 152 children whose parents had divorced or separated, some of whom had remarried and/or lived in a re-ordered family. Their research revealed that children from divorced or separated parents were more likely to have health problems, need extra help at school, suffer from low self-esteem and have friendship difficulties than a comparable control group of children. Furthermore it was found that these problems were much more apparent in re-ordered families. The researchers also found that the most affected children were those who had experienced multiple changes with the least affected being those who had experienced the same single parent. (AO1)This study used an opportunity sampling technique, which means that the findings may lack external validity because this technique never yields a representative sample. While this study shows the effects of deprivation it must be considered that there could be many causes for these behaviours other than deprivation that could account for the ‘problems’ experienced by children whose parents had divorced or separated because divorce involves much more emotional disruptions than simply deprivation of a previous caregiver.
For example, the psychological adjustment of the custodial parent, the inter-parental conflict that the child witnesses, economic hardship – divorce and/or separation often means the ‘family’ have much less income than before the divorce/separation, stressful life-changes, etc. (AO2)