Failure to Form Attachment - Privation


Case study - Genie


  • Discovered at 13
  • Kept in small room + not spoken to from early age
  • Father claimed she was born 'retarded' so shut her away


  • Linguistic abilities were very poor and did not develop normally once past the simple phrases stage
  • At first wasn't toilet trained and salivated and masturbated often
  • Social skills were limited but did form some attachments


  • Some effects of privation are reversible but development is limited
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Case study - Czech Twins


  • Placed in cellar by step-mum and beaten regularly
  • Discovered 5.5 years later
  • Had no contact with outside world


  • Had rickets disease and communicated mainly in gestures
  • Taken to adoptive mothers and developed normallly
  • Formed good relationships with adoptive family and got married in future and were successful


  • Privation can be reversed
  • Were not shut away until 18 months so may be a case of disruption rather than privation
  • May not be a case of privation as twins may have formed attachments to each other
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Effect of privation - Case study evaluation

  • P - There are issues with using case studies, one being that they are only relevant to that individual
  • E - The twins and Genie were both treated very differently and had very different after care, the twins being adopted and Genie being placed in foster care. This meant that the outcomes of each case were different and a defintie effect of privation cant be concluded
  • C - This means that the results cant be applied to all cases and cant be generalised
  • - There are ethical issues involving children who have gone through privation
  • E - Children who have been treated badly as in the case studies are very vulnerable and the psychological tests done on them may be seen as unethical. For example, once the funds ran out for the research on Genie, she was separated from the woman she had formed an attachment with and was abused in oster care
  • C - This breeches the protection of participants guideline
  • P - Another issue with case studies is that a causal relationship can't be established
  • E - Genie's father claimed that he locked her away because she was retarded. If he is right, then her condition may have affected her development. We dont have comparison of before and after.
  • C - Limits relevance of the research
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Hodges & Tizard - Institutionalisation

Aim: Investigate the effects of privation on ex-institutionalised children


  • Studied 65 children aged from early years to adolesence
  • Children had been in care from less than 4 months old so hadn't formed attachments
  • Assessed at regular intervals until 16
  • Once institutionalised were either adopted or restored to original family


  • Restored children less likely to form attachments than adopted children. Adopted children formed close attachments similar to those seen in the control group
  • Both groups were more quarrelsome than other children and has issues with their peers
  • Some were more attention seeking towards adults


  • Early privatisation has negative effect on ability to form relationships even with good replacement care
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Hodges & Tizard - Evaluation

  • - As it was a longitudinal study the attrition rate had an affect on the reliability of the results
  • E - The researchers lost contact with some of thechildren and did not collect the full data needed to include them in the study
  • C - This reduces the reliability of the study as it reduces the sample size
  • P - There is supporting evidence for the results
  • E - Rutter et al - assessed 100 romanian orphans at 4, 6 and 11 yrs old who had either been adopted before or after 6 months old. Those adopted before 6 months had time to form attachments and had normal development, whereas others did not and had issues with peers.
  • C - This supports the result that privation in the form of keeping children in institutions past the age of 6 months has negative long term effects
  • - Both studies have high ecological validity
  • E - Both were natural observations and the children were therefore behaving and acting in a natural way - no demand characteristics
  • C - However, individual differences means that the results cant be applied to all children
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