What are the underlying psychological assumptions raised by the source? The article ‘don’t let robots be child minders’ from the source ‘Metro dated Thursday June 5th 2008’ raises a number of assumptions in relation to development, emotion and the effects of attachment towards children.
One assumption which can be inferred from the source could be ‘parents are leaving robots to look after their children’ which may be related to Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs consists of 5 levels which are physiological (necessities of life), safety (security of employment, family and health), love (of friends and family), esteem (having confidence, self esteem and respect). The last level being self actualization in which people accept facts and lack prejudice.
It is suggested that once a level has been fulfilled it no longer becomes a priority to an individual and that comfort is more important than physical needs as these are higher in the hierarchy of needs. Therefore, would leaving children with robots be sensible? Robots aren’t human and are unable to cater to higher levels in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Robots cannot give children comfort and support like human individuals which then leaves children deprived from social development, this leads onto the next assumption.
Describe and relate some psychological evidence to the source. Harlow and Harlow’s study (1960) shows the consequence of an infant deprived for social development. Harlow and Harlow had separated rhesus monkeys from their mothers and were brought up by surrogate ‘mothers’. One made of wire and the other made of cloth. For some monkeys one mother provided milk however, the other did not. It was found that monkeys were attached to the cloth mother regardless of whether she provided milk or not.
It was found the mother provided ‘contact comfort’. Later in the monkeys’ life they were found to be ‘indifferent or abusive to other monkeys and found difficulty with mating and parenting’. Therefore relating back to the assumption ‘parents leaving robots to look after their children’ and Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of needs, Harlow’s study suggests leaving infants with robots will cause abnormality in later life in social areas, as their comfort needs will not be satisfied through an emotionless robot.
Hodges and Tizard had investigated the social effects of previously institutionalised children between the ages of 2 to 16. It was found that children restored to their biological families had less of a relationship with siblings and parents opposed to children who were adopted of children living with their biological families. It s also found that they were less affectionate and less likely to confide in parents or have someone else to confide in outside the family. This then shows that children who in their critical period, spend less time with their primary caregivers are less likely to maintain or have a social relationship with others. This relates back to the assumption that having an emotionless robot as a primary caregiver ‘creates a generation of social misfits’?
Bandura investigated how role models and imitation affected children’s behaviour. It was found that children who observed an aggressive model were more likely to replicate aggressive physical and verbal behaviour made by their role model. However, children who were placed in the non-aggressive condition were less likely to behave aggressively. Relating this back to the third assumption ‘what kind of role model is a robot’ and the social learning theory, Bandura suggests that we will learn behaviour by imitating role models around us. A robot could be seen as a poor role model as it will be unemotional and not model appropriate for a human. This means children cared for by robots will then learn this behaviour and act in similar ways.
How can psychological evidence be used to affect the issues raised in the source? In relation to the first assumption that ‘parents are leaving robots to look after their children’ relating to Maslow’s theory of hierarchy of need. Suggesting leaving robots to mind children is not a sensible idea as a robot is unable to cater to high levels of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs which may result in deprivation in social development.