Comparison of Institutionally Reared and Maltreated Children on Socioemotional and Biological Functioning

Nicole B. Perry, Carrie E. DePasquale, Philip H. Fisher, Megan R. Gunnar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


The current study compared behavioral and adrenocortical functioning of maltreated (N = 91) and comparably aged (1.5–3 years) institutionally-reared children soon after (1.5–2.5 months) placement in foster care or adoptive homes, respectively. Foster and adoptive parents reported on the children’s socioemotional competence and behavior problems, experimenters scored fear and positive affect to laboratory tasks, and diurnal cortisol measures were obtained. We sought to address whether these early contexts, characterized by different types of neglect and deprivation, have differential effects on young children’s development. We found little support for the argument that either context results in uniformly poorer functioning soon after removal from adversity. Maltreated children were less fearful and more positive when exposed to both positive and novel events than institutionally-reared children. However, maltreated children were reported to have more behavior problems than did institutionally-reared children, and institutionally-reared children showed more typical declines in cortisol throughout the day than the maltreated children. These findings increase our ability to construct more targeted and effective interventions for these populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)235-243
Number of pages9
JournalChild Maltreatment
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • HPA functioning
  • adjustment
  • early life adversity
  • institutionalized
  • maltreatment

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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