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Attachment – Psychological Theories

4. Romanian Orphan Studies

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In this module, we look at studies on attachment that were conducted with Romanian orphans in the 1990s and early 2000s. We begin by thinking about the historical context of these studies and discuss how the disastrous family policies of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu led to a national crisis in which many poverty-stricken families were forced to abandon their children and put them into orphanages. We discuss the poor living conditions and lack of care provided inside the orphanages and then move on to examining two studies on the psychological effects of institutionalisation on these children: Rutter (1998) and Zeanah et al. (2005), both of which found that institutionalisation had a profound effect on the development of children and their ability to form secure attachment relationships.


In this course, Dr Emily Burdett (University of Nottingham) discusses psychological theories of attachment, the close emotional bond formed between two individuals. We begin, in module one, by thinking about John Bowlby’s research on the mother-infant relationship before moving on, in module two, to discussing two studies of attachment in non-human animals by Harry Harlow and Konrad Lorenz. Module three focuses on Mary Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’ experiment as a way of measuring the quality of attachment between an infant and a caregiver. Next, we look at two Romanian orphan studies and think about how the lack of strong attachment relationships in early life affects a child’s later development. Finally, in module five, we consider the influence of early attachment on later relationships, including with a romantic partner and as a parent.


Dr Emily Burdett is interested in how culture and cognition influence our understanding of the world around us. Her research has particularly explored the cognitive and social processes that influence the evolution of 'culture.' Her work uses an interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and experimental approach to explore questions about how children and adults form concepts, how they learn and who they learn from, and when they innovate and become creative. These questions motivate current projects exploring the origin and transmission of culture, the cultural and cognitive underpinnings of religion and morality, and the motivations for learning and creativity.

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APA style

Burdett, E. (2019, September 27). Attachment – Psychological Theories - Romanian Orphan Studies [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Burdett, E. "Attachment – Psychological Theories – Romanian Orphan Studies." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 27 Sep 2019,

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