The article that I will be investigating was published in the Daily Mail on Friday 18th October 2002. The article is about Jeremy Bamber who allegedly murdered his entire adoptive family. The three issues that I can draw from the article are maternal deprivation, just world hypothesis and physical attractiveness.

A quote that relates to my first issue of maternal deprivation is, “This appellant was convicted of the murder of the entirety of his adopted family.” In Bowlby’s (1946) study of 44 thieves, he said that if a child does not know their mother, they become stunted unaffectionate psychopaths. He compared juvenile delinquents with other emotionally disturbed adolescents who had not committed any crimes. This links to my quote as Bowlby is highlighting the long-term affects of maternal deprivation, which is relevant as Bamber was adopted and did not know his real mother.

The second issue that I have identified is the idea of just world hypothesis. A quote from the article that shows this is “Bamber, 41, is serving five life sentences in Whitemoor prison.” A study that can be linked to this is, Pollard (1992) where he reviewed judgements about victims and attackers in depicted rapes. He found that the way a victim dresses and how many sexual partners they have had play a part in whether they ‘deserved’ to be raped. Just like how Bamber murdered his family, so he deserved to be sentenced to jail.

A quote that relates to my third issue of Physical attractiveness is, “Jeremy Bamber had lost the tanned complexion and flowing hair that marked him out as one of Britain’s most handsome mass murderers.” A study that relates to this is Stewart (1980) where he analysed the results of real-life juries and rated the facial attractiveness of the defendants and the verdicts. This links to my quote as the more attractive you are, the shorter the sentence you receive. In this case the opposite has happened, as Bamber has received five life-sentences in prison, for the five members of his family that he murdered.

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The study that I used to support my first issue of maternal deprivation is by Bowlby. Bowlby found that sixty-four per cent of the juvenile delinquents, lacked guilt and remorse, also known as affectionless psychopathy, had also experienced deprivation in early childhood. This links to the article as Bamber was adopted and experienced deprivation from his biological mother, “he slaughtered his adoptive father, mother and sister”. An alternative way of looking at the source is that maybe he was born to be bad. Dr. Leslie Wolfe said that children of low-income families of ethnic minority groups do not commit murders but ‘privileged’ white boys do. This means that instead of maternal deprivation being the reason why Bamber murdered his family, perhaps he was just born to be bad.

The study used in my second issue of just world hypothesis, is by Pollard. He reviewed studies looking at judgements about attackers and victims in rape cases and found that, the more scantily dressed and the more sex partners the victim had, the less sympathy they received. The source and the study link because Bamber told his girlfriend how he was going to kill his parents for the inheritance, if he had not, perhaps he may not have been found guilty, “he had often bragged that he was going to kill his parents and claim his inheritance”. Just as if the women were well dressed and did not have many sexual partners, they would have received more sympathy and the attacker would be found guilty. Another way of looking at the source is that Bamber is innocent and a passing comment made to his girlfriend could be why he was found guilty.

The study that I used to support my third issue of physical attractiveness is by Stewart, who analysed results from real-life juries. He rated the facial attractiveness of the defendants and the verdicts of the case. He found no correlation between facial attractiveness and perception of guilt. But there was a negative correlation for the length of sentences between reduced sentences and facial attractiveness for both sexes. I can link this to my issue because, “He wore rimless glasses and a freshly ironed white open-necked shirt that made him look more like a prison officer than a prisoner.” Even though Bamber is depicted as being attractive, he was still found guilty and received the maximum length of sentence possible. An alternative way of looking of looking at the source could be that, the more attractive you are the harsher the sentence you receive, especially if you use your looks to commit the crime, for example in fraud or deception.

Psychology can improve and alter the behaviour that maternal deprivation causes through the use of enrichment programmes. This relates to the fact that Bamber was adopted, which is referred to many times throughout the article. A study which supports my suggestion of enrichment programmes is, Project Head Start, which was introduced in the United States in the 1960’s, and was a programme for young disadvantaged children. Head start programmes were aimed at increasing IQ scores but there were also beneficial effects on education achievement. If this is acted upon then the deprived child would have a higher IQ level and hopefully lead a stable ‘normal’ life, knowing what is wrong and right.

A suggestion as to how psychology can help us look at just world hypothesis is by looking at whether the defendant is actually a victim. This relates to Jeremy Bamber still protesting his innocence seventeen years after his conviction. Lerner and Miller (1978) suggest that we blame the victim because something is wrong with them and we feel that the same might happen to us. In reality, Bamber had the blame because supposedly he turned on his family, which could happen to anyone.

Psychology can help us look at the issue of physical attractiveness, by looking at factors such as the seriousness and nature of the crime, that influence the effect of the defendant’s physical attractiveness. This relates to Bamber being described as being ‘handsome’ but allegedly murdered his adoptive family. A study that supports this is by Sigall and Ostrove (1975), who found that defendants charged with fraud received higher sentences, because they used their looks to commit the crime. To what extent did Bamber think he was going to get away with the crime, if he actually committed it, just because is physically attractive?


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