Development and Psychopathology

Articles

Attachment security and indiscriminately friendly behavior in children adopted from Romanian orphanages

Kim Chisholma1 c1, Margaret C. Cartera1, Elinor W. Amesa1 and Sara J. Morisona1

a1 Simon Fraser University

Abstract

Attachment security was assessed in children who had spent at least 8 months in a Romanian orphanage (RO) and two comparison groups of children: a Canadian-born, nonadopted comparison group (CB) and a comparison group adopted from Romania before the age of 4 months (RC). We also assessed differences in displays of indiscriminately friendly behavior between the two adopted groups of children. Attachment security was assessed using parent report on a questionnaire comprised of the 23 items with the highest and lowest loadings on the Waters and Deane (1985) attachment Q-sort. Indiscriminately friendly behavior was assessed using parents' responses to five questions about their children's behavior with new adults. Children's attachment security scores were also compared to parents' scores on the parent attachment subscale of the Parenting Stress Index (Abidin, 1990). RO children scored significantly lower on security of attachment than did either the RC or CB children. RC and CB children did not differ on attachment security. Based on their parents' reports, RO children displayed significantly more indiscriminately friendly behaviors than did RC children, but such behaviors were not correlated with security of attachment. Children's attachment security scores were related to their parents attachment scores only in the RO group. It is suggested that RO children's experience of extreme neglect contributed to their low attachment-security scores, and that indiscriminate friendliness may be an important behavior to consider in the study of attachment in institutionalized children.

Correspondence

c1 Kim Chisholm, Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby B.C., Canada V5A 1S6.