Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 4, pp 459–470 | Cite as

Behavior Problems in Children Adopted from Psychosocially Depriving Institutions



Behavior problems were investigated in 342 6- to 18-year-old children adopted from psychosocially depriving Russian institutions that provided adequate physical resources but not consistent, responsive caregiving. Results indicated that attention and externalizing problems were the most prevalent types of behavior problems in the sample as a whole. Behavior problem rates increased with age at adoption, such that children adopted at 18 months or older had higher rates than never-institutionalized children but younger-adopted children did not. There was a stronger association between age at adoption and behavior problems during adolescence than at younger ages at assessment. Children adopted from psychosocially depriving institutions had lower behavior problem rates than children adopted from severely depriving Romanian institutions in the 1990s. The implications of these results are that early psychosocial deprivation is associated with behavior problems, children exposed to prolonged early deprivation may be especially vulnerable to the developmental stresses of adolescence, and severe institutional deprivation is associated with a higher percentage of behavior problems after a shorter duration of exposure.


Institutionalization Behavior problems Early childhood development 



This research was supported by NICHD grants HD39017 and HD050212 to Robert B. McCall and Christina J. Groark. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NICHD or NIH. The authors thank Larisa Mason, Mary Graber, and the participating families who made this study possible. The authors are also grateful to Megan Gunnar and Victor Groza for contributing data and for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. The authors also thank Larry Fish for guidance with statistical analyses and Johana Rosas, Megan Julian, and Brandi Hawk for their assistance with the database.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA
  2. 2.Office of Child DevelopmentUniversity of PittsburghPittsburghUSA

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