AQA students will be familiar with Michael Rutter’s research on Romanian orphans and what it tells us about the effects of emotional deprivation. The research has been conducted by the English and Romanian Adoptee Study (ERA) which has continued to follow the children into adulthood. A recent article in the Lancet reports the latest findings from the young adult follow-up of the orphans (also described in a BBC article).
To some extent the results are similar to the earlier studies – basically there continues to be a difference between those children adopted before the age of six months and those adopted after this time (which supports Bowlby’s concept of a sensitive period for the development of attachment).
There are signs that the late adopted children have shown some cognitive recovery but the emotional differences have continued – the late adopted children show many more signs of emotional disturbance than the early adopted children and, if anything, these have increased.
However 20% of the late adopted children show no problems at all. This indicates there are some people who have high levels of resilience.