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Attachment in Institutionalized and Community Children in Romania


  • The Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP) Core Group consists of: Charles H. Zeanah, Anna T. Smyke, and Sebastian F. Koga (Tulane University); Charles A. Nelson (University of Minnesota), Susan W. Parker (Randolph Macon College); Nathan A. Fox (University of Maryland); Peter J. Marshall (Temple University); and Hermi R. Woodward (University of Pittsburgh/MacArthur Research Networks).

  • The BEIP was funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Early Experience and Brain Development (Charles A. Nelson, Network Chair). The authors wish to acknowledge the many invaluable contributions of their Romanian partner institutions, the SERA Romania Foundation, the Institute for Maternal and Child Health (IOMC), and the Department for Social Welfare (DGAS), Sector 1, Bucharest. They are also deeply grateful to their Romanian team whose hard work and dedication have made this study possible. Thanks also to Donald Guthrie of UCLA and Scott Keith of the University of New Orleans for assistance with data analysis and to L. Alan Sroufe of the University of Minnesota for assistance with data coding.

concerning this article should be addressed to Charles H. Zeanah, Department of Psychiatry, Tulane University Health Sciences Center, Tidewater Building TB-52, 1440 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA 70112. Electronic mail may be sent to


This study examined attachment in institutionalized and community children 12–31 months of age in Bucharest, Romania. Attachment was assessed using ratings of attachment behaviors and ratings of caregiver descriptions in a structured interview. As predicted, children raised in institutions exhibited serious disturbances of attachment as assessed by all methods. Observed quality of caregiving was related to formation and organization of attachment in children living in institutions. These results held even when other variables, such as cognitive level, perceived competence, and quantitative interaction ratings, were controlled for. Ratings of attachment behavior in the Strange Situation and caregiver reports of signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder converged moderately. The implications of these findings for different perspectives on attachment are discussed.