Effects of Institutionalisation: Romanian Orphans

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  • Romanian Orphans Study
    • Rutter wanted to investigate the effects of institutionalisation on the Romanian Orphans
      • Aim
        • To assess whether loving/nurturing care could overturn the effects of institutionalisation
      • Procedure
        • A longitudinal and natural experiment
          • A natural experiment because age of adoption cannot be chosen (naturally occurring IV)
          • Longitudinal study because the same participants are used in the same conditions - happened over a long time
        • Conditions
          • 1. Children adopted before the age of 6 months
          • 2. Children adopted between 6 months and 2 years
          • 3. Children adopted after 2 years
        • IV: Age of adoption     DV: Child's level of cognitive functioning
        • 111 Romanian orphans individually assessed for physical, emotional development and cognitive functioning on arrival in Britain
          • Assessed again at 4 years old
        • Control group of 52 British adopted children were also assessed
          • Control group to assess if negative effects were due to separation of carers or institutional conditions
      • Findings
        • 50% of Romanian orphans were retarded and most were underweight
        • At age 4, the orphans showed great improvement in development
      • Conclusion
        • Negative affects on institutionalisation can be overcome by sensitive nurturing
    • A03
      • The results provide evidence for Bowlby's maternal deprivation hypothesis
        • This predicts that lack of attachment results in serious and permanent damage to the child's emotional, social and intellectual development
        • 50% of infants were retarded, showing problems with attachment
        • Support the idea that maternal deprivation has long-lasting effects
      • Follow up studies which find similar results to that of Rutter
        • Morrison and Elwood: Romanian orphans adopted in Canada
        • Rutter found that poor peer relations weren't associated with instiutionalisation
        • Suggests that Bowlby's results were reliable
      • Difficult to be sure the effects are solely as a result of maternal deprivation
        • Previous studies of orphans who have involved children experience trauma before insitutionalisation
        • Unclear effects of trauma and insitutionalisation
        • This is a limitation as the unusual situation means that the studies may not be generalised to other orphans


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