The effects of institutionalisation

notes on the 3 main studies on institutionalisation

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The Spitz reasearch/evaluation

  • studied the effects of privation in South American orphanages
  • nurses rarely interacted, even when feeding, the babaies weren't held, bottles were just propped into their mouths.
  • suffered from anadictic depression characterised by: apprihension, sadness, weepiness, sleep problems and refusing to eat and drink.
  • a third of the children died before thier first birthday dispite good medical care and diets.


  • high levels of ecological validity as it looked at real orphans in a real orphanage, so can be applied to real life.
  • low levels of population validity as different orphanges may have provided different care and children may develop differently.
  • research was conducted between 1946 and 1952 so care in orphanages may have improved and therefore the results may be out of date.
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Hodges and Tizard/evaluation

  • privation can be caused by policies in orphanages which stops nurses from forming attachments with the children.
  • this can be reversed by a warm loving enviroment
  • at 16, the children who were restored to their families after privation formed the weakest attachments they were more likely to be bullied and not to make friends.


see notes on privation hodges and tizard:

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Widdowson study/evaluation

  • study of a group of children who were suffering from deprivation dwarfism- they were physically undeveloped.
  • a change in diet didn't improve childrens growth but a change in supervisor did. The old supervisor was harsh and cruel were as they new one was the opposite.
  • this shows that good emotional care rather than physical care was the cause of their improvements


  • high levels of ecological validity as this really happened.
  • low levels of population validity asd only one orphanage was studied so different carers in different orphanages may have effected children differently.
  • good internal validity as conclusions that emotional care can effect growth because they accounted for varibles such as a change in diet.
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