Institutionalisation - overview
Definition: where child-care is provided by orphanages and care homes
Bowlby's MDH was largely based upon studies conducted in the 1930s and 1940s of children raised in such institutions.
Conditions of these institutions were poor; physical care was basic and emotional care wasn't provided at all.
People raised in such conditions showed permanet signs of intellectual and emotional developement.
However, subsequent studies in institutionalised children indicated that some of the effects were related to the very poor conditions and lack of stimulation and not purely attachment.
Hodges & Tizard
- Carried out a longitudinal study of 65 institutionalised children.
- Studied first when they were less than 4 months old.
- Good physical care was provided but the staff weren't allowed to form attachments with the children
- The care given was functional and lacked warmth as a result
- At the age of 2, the institutionalised children showed a range of unusual attachment behaviours.
- Rather than showing fear of strangers, they would run to any adult in the room and demand their attention
- They would also cry when the adult left, even though they hadn't formed an attachment.
- This is known as disinhibited attachment. Rutter explained this behaviour pattern as an adaptation to the lack of a single caregiver in institutions.
Hodges & Tizard - findings and conclusion
- By the age of 4 years, 24 of the children had been adopted by foster parents, 15 had returned to their natural families, and the rest remained in the home.
- The children that were adopted and 'restored' were assessed at ages 8 and 16 and their parents, teachers and peers were interviewed. The findings were compared with a control group of children who had not been institutionalised.
- The findings show that the adopted children fared better than the 'restored' children in that they formed closer attachments to their adopted parents.
- However, both groups were less successful than the control group at forming peer relationships, and both groups also tended to seek more adult attention and approval than the control group children did.
- This suggests that children who experience relative privation by being institutionalised are able to overcome some of the negative effects of their privation of they are able to form attachments to sensitive and caring adults. However, overcoming the negative effects doesn't necessarily extend to peer relationships
Evaluation of Hodges & Tizard
Ignores the underlying termperament of the children involved
It may well be that the children selected for adoption were more emotionally stable and sociable than the ones that were reunited with their parents, and this individual difference in temperament could account for them forming closer relationships with their adopted parents. Without accounting for temperament, it is impossible to conclude that the warmer, more commited parenting provided by the foster parents contributed to overcoming the negative effects of privation.
Romanian orphans : Rutter
- Rutter studied Romanian orphans who had been severely privated.
- The orphanages in Romania were overcrowded. The children's physical care was met to a very basic level but they didn't experience any emotional care.
- Children were malnourished and bathed unregularly.
- A number of orphans were later adopted by British families. The children that were adopted younger than 6 months developed 'normal' attachment styles.
- Those who were adopted older than 6 months showed a disinhibited attachmment style (forming an attachment with any adult)
The Bucharest early intervention project
Zeanah et al. (2005) assessed the attachment in 95 children aged between 12-31 months who had spent an average of 90% of their life in an institution and compared them to a control group who spend their life in a “normal family”. The attachment type was measured using the Strange Situation.
Findings: 74% of the control group was found to be securely attached but only 19% of the institutionalised group. 65% of this group were classified as disorganised attachment (a type of insecure attachment were the children display an inconsistent pattern of behaviour; sometimes they show strong attachment other times they avoid the caregiver).