The aim of Hodges and Tizard's study was to
examine the effect of institutional upbringing on later attachments.
To study the effects of early experience
on later development Hodges and Tizard used a longitudinal approach. A
longitudinal approach is where a group of participants are followed up after
a period of time, in this case 16 years. To collect their data Hodges and
Tizard used various self-report measures, interviews, and psychometric
tests, with the participants themselves (adolescents) and their parents and
The participants in the study were all
aged 16 and had all been in institutional care until at least two years of
age. At this age most of the children had either been adopted or restored
to biological parents. The study focused on 31 ex-institutional children.
Two comparison groups were also studied.
Hodges and Tizard compared their group of children with matched groups who
had been with their families throughout their lives. One comparison group
was drawn from the London area, and was made up of 16-year-old children who
were matched one for one with the ex-institutional children on the basis of
sex, position in the family, whether they were from one- or two-parent
families, and the occupation of their family's main breadwinner. The other
comparison group consisted of a same-sex school friend (of the same age) for
each of the ex-institutional children.
Five main methods were used to collect
data on all the adolescents (including those in the comparison groups):
1. an interview with the adolescent
2. an interview with the mother (in some
cases with their father present);
3. a self-report questionnaire concerning
4. a questionnaire completed by the
subjects' school teacher about their relationships with their peers and
5. the Rutter 'B' scale which is a type
of psychometric test which identifies psychiatric problems such as
At 16 the majority of the adoptive
mothers felt that their child was deeply attached to them. By contrast only
a half of the restored children were described as deeply attached. Adopted
adolescents were also more often said by their mothers to be attached to
their father than the restored group.
Ex-institutional children had greater
problems with siblings than a comparison group.
There were no differences regarding the
number of contacts with opposite sex friends, or whether the 16 year-old
currently had a boy/girl friend compared to non-institutionalised
However, ex-institutional children had
poorer relationships with peers than a comparison group. Teachers rated the
ex-institutionalised group as more often quarrelsome, less often liked by
other children and as bullying other children more than the comparison
group. According to their mothers, the ex-institutional adolescents were
less likely to have a definite special friend.
Hodges and Tizard believed argued that
their findings demonstrate that children who are deprived of close and
lasting attachments to adults in their first years of life can make such
attachments later, although this does depend on the adults concerned and how
much they nurture such attachments.
Hodges and Tizard offer an explanation
for why the adopted children were more likely to overcome some of the
problems of early institutional upbringing better than the restored
children. The financial situation of the adoptive families was often
better, they had on average fewer children to provide for, and the adoptive
parents were particularly highly motivated to have a child and to develop a
relationship with that child. The biological parents in Hodges and Tizard's
sample seemed to have been 'more ambivalent about their child living with