Observation of Attachment Behaviors in an Ecuadorian Orphanage

TiAnna R. Vogt


Attachment bonds are assumed to exist in nearly all non-institutional settings (Bowlby, 1958, 1983), with strength of the attachment being the most significant variable. However, these attachments may not have the opportunity to form when caregiver presence is inconsistent. This often occurs within orphanages or other institutional settings (Dozier & Rutter, 2008). In the current study the author observed behaviors among infants, caregivers, and external figures within an Ecuadorian orphanage over a six week period. Minimal requirements for attachment within institutional care were explored through qualitative analysis of these observations. In this particular orphanage, although physical, structural, and immediate emotional needs were largely met, infants did not express behaviors typical of children who have formed attachment relationships. The formation of attachment, therefore, may be more strongly associated with the consistent presence of specified caregivers and caregiver exclusivity than the quality of the care received.