January30, 2023

Abstract Volume: 5 Issue: 3 ISSN:

A Comparative Study on Psychosocial Behavioural Patterns of Orphans and Non-Orphan Children

Varsha Shaw*

Corresponding Author: Varsha Shaw, M.Phil in Child & Adolescent Psychology, Rehabilitation Administrator, Psychological Counsellor, Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, Co-Founder of Resilience – Defining the Undefined.

Copy Right: © 2022 Varsha Shaw, This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Received Date: August 23, 2022

Published Date: September 01, 2022



Hundred Biological Orphans, hundred Legal Orphans and Hundred Non-Orphans was selected for the present study. Each group was divided on the basis of sex (fifty males and fifty females) and even intelligence groups (children with average intelligence and children with below average intelligence) were separately taken for clearer picture of the study. The selected sample were assessed on selected psychological variables namely – Intelligence, Impulsivity, Aggression and Depression.

The main objective of the study was to determine if there is significant differences in Intelligence, Impulsivity, Aggression and Depression among/between subgroups of three sets of samples [i.e. (a) orphans (biological orphans and legal orphans) and non-orphans; (b) sex (both males and females); and (c) intelligence groups (children with average intelligence and children with below average intelligence). Statistics in the form of descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and inferential statistics [(3× 2 × 2) Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Post Hoc Tukey Test] are done.

Results indicated a significantly higher between group scores for all the dimensions of the selected variables. Orphans scored low in intelligence scale as compared to their non- orphan counterparts whereas females scored lower in case of the above mentioned. Higher trend of scores were observed in orphans (biological and legal) / females / children with below average intelligence in almost all the dimensions of the selected variables when compared with their counterparts.

Among orphans, Biological orphans scored highest in innate aggression, trait aggression dimensions, anger control, and almost in all the dimensions of depression except Anhedonia. Whereas, Legal orphans scored highest in extrinsic aggression, state aggression dimensions, not planning impulsiveness and anhedonia. Intelligence was obtained to be highest in case of Non-orphans. Between sex, Females scored higher in almost all the dimensions of the selected variables except not planning, extrinsic aggression, Anhedonia and intelligence.

Between intelligence groups, Children with below average intelligence scored higher in all the dimensions of the selected variables i.e. impulsivity, aggression and depression.

A Comparative Study on Psychosocial Behavioural Patterns of Orphans and Non-Orphan Children


The present jet set era is characterized by materialistic – borne expectations and anticipation that adorn the globalized world economy. “Achieving” the height with enormous amount of “speed” appears to be chief importance. This in turn, takes the toll on family – rearing –up of children and adolescents and their life style patterns. Relationships have started to become brittle, with social support networks getting deteriorated. The up surging crisis is on ….. with rapid transitions from joint and extended to the nuclear family set-up from sharing and co-operative orientation to a worse self centered , narcissistic bent of mental frame , from children being brought up in the protective “shell” a shelter owing to both deceased parent in the emergence of orphan hood and the like …. In fact, orphan hood has become a common trend, not only in the west, but also in the Indian culture that has its bearing in the relationship platter of children and adolescents – the buds of future generation. As such, the “cocoon” of young children and adolescents in this condition gets ventilated at a pre-mature condition, having its myriad consequences.

The family is the child’s first and longest lasting context in the life canvas. Human children develop slowly, requiring years of support and instruction before they are ready to be independent. The slow journey to attain maturity has left an imprint on human social organization everywhere: families are pervasive and parents are universally important in the lives of the children.

Concept of Orphans:

An Orphan is a child whose parents are dead or have abandoned them permanently (Merriam Webster Online Dictionary; 1828). In common usage, only a child who has lost both parents is called an orphan. When referring to animals, only the mother's condition is usually relevant. If she has gone, the offspring is an orphan, regardless of the father's condition.

Adults can also be referred to as orphan, or adult orphans. However, survivors who reached adulthood before their parents died are normally not called orphans. It is a term generally reserved for children whose parents have died while they are too young to support themselves.

Various groups use different definitions to identify orphans. One legal definition used in the United States is a minor bereft through "death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents".

In the common use, an orphan does not have any surviving parent to care for him or her. However, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Joint United Nations

Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), and other groups label any child that has lost one parent as an orphan. In this approach, a maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died, a paternal orphan is a child whose father has died, and a double orphan has lost both parents. This contrasts with the older use of half-orphan to describe children that had lost only one parent.

There are various types of orphans mentioned as follows:

Biological Orphans:

One might be surprised to find that many children who are considered orphans may actually have a parent who is still alive. Here are some definitions of different types of orphans:

  1. A single orphan is a child (under the age of eighteen) whose mother or father has died.
  2. A paternal orphan is a child whose father has died.
  3. A maternal orphan is a child whose mother has died.

A full orphan/double orphan is a child whose parents have both died. These are all categorized as "true orphans." (www.EzineArticles.com)

Legal Orphans:

A legal orphan is a child whose parent’s rights have been terminated and who has no legal permanent connection to a family. (www.ncjfcj.org)

Indifferent kinds of orphans-the "legal orphan' is the one who has lost her/his parents through a termination of parental rights proceeding but who has not been subsequently adopted by new parents. Every state has established a statutory procedure to terminate the parental rights of unfit parents. Recent federal legislation aimed at reducing the number of children mired in the foster care system is accelerating the rate at which parental rights are being terminated.

Adoption of these children, however, is not keeping pace with the rate at which parental rights are being terminated. As a result, the number of legal orphans is growing.

This Article addresses the inheritance rights of these legal orphans. In some states, termination of parental rights (TPR) statutes expressly provide that the right of the child to inherit from the biological parent survives termination.

In other states, termination statutes explicitly extinguish the inheritance rights of the child. In many states, however, termination statutes do not explicitly address inheritance rights at all, although these statutes often use broad language divesting both parent and child of all legal rights, obligations, and duties with respect to each other, suggesting that the right of the child to inherit from the terminated parent is extinguished. In a significant number of states, then, termination of parental rights will, or might, result in the loss of the child's right to inherit from his biological parents.

Part II of the Article outlines the nature of state termination of parental rights statutes, notes the effect of recent federal legislation on those proceedings, and describes the effect of various types of termination of parental rights statutes on the inheritance rights of the child.

Part III (A) argues that barring a child's right to inherit from terminated parents contravenes the policies that underlie the child welfare system. The primary goal of the child welfare system in general, and the termination of parental rights process in particular, is to further the welfare of the child. Depriving children of the right to inherit from their parents, and from their parents' families, does not benefit children, but rather imposes an additional burden on children who are already disadvantaged not only by the inadequacies of their parents, but likely by poverty and minority status as well.

Part III (B) argues that the disinheritance of children of terminated parents is also inconsistent with the broader scheme of intestate succession. In the American legal system, inheritance rights are almost invariably based on the parent-child relationship--children inherit from their biological mothers and fathers. There are two notable exceptions to this general rule-adopted children and non-marital children-and the Article compares children of terminated parents with these other two categories of children who can lose the right to inherit from their biological parents. Neither of these exceptions suggests a rationale for extinguishing the right of children to inherit from their terminated biological parents.

Part IV considers the constitutionality of termination of parental rights statutes that disinherit children. The series of United States Supreme Court decisions that invalidated on equal protection grounds statutes that discriminated against non-marital children will be reviewed.

These Supreme Court cases, and particularly those dealing directly with inheritance rights of non-marital children, suggest that similar bars on inheritance by children of terminated parents may be similarly subject to challenge on equal protection grounds. Finally, Part V will suggest how termination of parental rights statutes should be rewritten to explicitly protect the right of children to inherit from their terminated parents.(www.scholarship.law.missouri.edu)


Aids Orphans:

The term "AIDS orphan" is now no longer used, because it increases stigma and discrimination and falsely implies that children orphaned by AIDS are themselves infected with HIV. Unfortunately, even some of the terms selected for these reasons-for example, "Children affected by AIDS" and "Orphans and other vulnerable children"-may themselves be stigmatizing. In many African languages, the word that would be translated as "orphan" in English includes all such vulnerable children. (www.EzineArticles.com)

Famous orphans include world leaders such as Nelson Mandela and Andrew Jackson; the Hebrew prophet Moses and the Muslim prophet Muhammad; writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, and Leo Tolstoy. The American orphan Henry Darger portrayed the horrible conditions of his orphanage in his art work. Other notable orphans include entertainment greats such as Louis Armstrong, Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, Ray Charles and Frances McDormand, and innumerable fictional characters in literature and comics. (www.wikipedia.org)

Theoretical Rationale:

Most developmental theories (e.g., psychoanalytic theory, Freud, 1940; social–cultural theory, Vygotsky, 1978; social-learning theory, Bandura, 1977; attachment theory, Bowlby, 1958) emphasize the importance of early social–emotional experience and the opportunity to experience human relationships for typical social and mental development. Attachment theory, in particular, focuses specifically on early experience with a few warm, caring, and socially–emotionally responsive adults who are relatively stable in the child's life as the foundation of appropriate social–emotional development and long-term mental health (e.g., Ainsworth, 1979; Ainsworth, Bell, & Stayton, 1974; Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bornstein &Tamis-LeMonda, 1989; Bowlby, 1958, 1969; Grusec& Lytton, 1988; Spitz, 1946; Sroufe, 1983; Sroufe, Carlson, Levy, &Egeland, 1999). Theoretically, an infant with a warm, responsive caregiver develops an internal working model of expectations for nurturing, supportive reactions from that caregiver, whom the infant comes to trust and use as a secure base from which to explore the social and physical world. Such experiences in turn promote the development of a sense of worthiness and self-esteem and appropriate long-term social–emotional development and mental health. Without the early experience of a few warm, caring, socially–emotionally responsive adults, long-term development may be compromised.

Meta-analyses and reviews of primarily correlational studies of home-reared children and their parents in a variety of countries substantiate several propositions that are consistent with attachment theory's emphasis on early experience with warm, sensitive, responsive adults:

Parental sensitivity (i.e., appropriate reciprocal social exchange), mutuality, synchrony, stimulation, positive attitude, and emotional support are related to secure attachment (e.g., Bakermans-Kranenburg, IJzendoorn, &Juffer, 2003; DeWolff&IJzendoorn, 1997; Posada et al., 2002; IJzendoorn&Sagi, 1999).

Maternal responsiveness and secure attachment in infancy predict better child social and mental skills later (e.g., Avierzer, Sagi, Resnick, &Gini, 2002; Bradley, Corwyn, Burchinal, McAdoo, &Coll, 2001; Landry, Smith, & Swank, 2006; Landry, Smith, Swank, & Miller- Loncar, 2000; NICHD Early Child Care Research Network, 2001; Stams, Juffer, &IJzendoorn, 2002; Steelman, Assel, Swank, Smith, & Landry, 2002).

Insecure attachment, especially when it is disorganized, is related to increased problem behaviors later. This is especially true for externalizing behaviors in males and other social, behavioral control, crime, and mental health problems, more so in high-risk children and those who continue to experience insensitive parenting and/or child care (Carlson, 1998; Crittenden, 2001; Fonagy et al., 1995, 1997; Greenberg, 1999; Greenberg, Speltz, DeKleyen, &Endriga, 1992; Lewis, Feiring, McGuffog, &Jaskir, 1984; Lyons-Ruth, Alpern, &Repacholi, 1993; Rothbaum&Weisz, 1994; Shaw, Owens, Vondra, Keenan, & Winslow, 1997; Speltz, Greenberg, &DeKleyen, 1990; Stams et al., 2002).

Thus, attachment theory in particular emphasizes the important role of early caregiver–child social–emotional experience and predicts delayed development of social–emotional behavior in children lacking such experiences. Other theories (Bandura, 1977; Vygotsky, 1978) might predict delays in other domains of development, and recent reviews indicate that appropriate early social–emotional experience is crucial to a broad range of later social, emotional, and mental skills (Landry et al., 2006; National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004a, 2004b; Richter, DevGriesel, &Manegold, 2004; Set for Success, 2004), even physical development (Blizzard, 1990; Johnson, 2000a, 2000b). It is not our purpose to test one or another theory but rather to substantiate the role of early caregiver– child social–emotional-relationship experiences in the contemporary development of institutional children. (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Objective of the Study:

The study purports to examine:

  1. Whether the Orphans differ from Non-Orphans with respect to several psychosocial aspects; namely - Intelligence, Impulsivity, Aggression and Depression.
  2. Whether the males differ from females counterparts with respect to several psychosocial aspects; namely – Intelligence, Anxiety, Aggression and Depression.
  3. Whether the children with average intelligence differ from children with below average intelligence with respect to several psychosocial aspects; namely – Impulsivity, Aggression and Depression.


The first step of any research is to draw up a design of the research. This includes deciding the aim of the study, operationally defining all the variables included in the study, choosing the tests and deciding on the procedure to be followed in the administration, scoring and interpretation of the results obtained. The present endeavour seeks to probe into the psychosocial behaviours of orphans (biological and legal orphans), as compared to those of non-orphans, with respect to the following variables – intelligence, impulsivity, aggression and depression. Attempt is also made to see whether males and females differ in with respect to the above mentioned psychosocial behaviours. Before further elaboration of the methodological frame undertaken in the study, it is necessary to operationally define each variable as well as sample.

Operational Definitions Of The Variables Used In The Present Study:

Intelligence –

In psychology, fluid and crystallized intelligence (respectively abbreviated Gf and Gc) are factors of general intelligence, originally identified by Raymond Cattell (1963). Concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence were further developed by Cattell's student, John L. Horn. (Cattell et.al.; 1971).

Thus, the type of intelligence measured in the present study is fluid intelligence hence the ultimate operational definition of intelligence according to the present study is as follows--

Fluid intelligence or fluid reasoning is the capacity to reason and solve novel problems, independent of any knowledge from the past. It is the ability to analyse novel problems, identify patterns and relationships that underpin these problems and the extrapolation of these using logic. It is necessary for all logical problem solving, e.g., in scientific, mathematical, and technical problem solving. Fluid reasoning includes inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning(Jaeggi et.al. 2008).


Impulsivity (or impulsiveness) is a multifactorial construct that involves a tendency to act on a whim, displaying behavior characterized by little or no forethought, reflection, or consideration of the consequences. Impulsive actions are typically "poorly conceived, prematurely expressed, unduly risky, or inappropriate to the situation that often result in undesirable consequences," which imperil long-term goals and strategies for success. (VandenBos, 2007).


Aggression is overt, often harmful, social interaction with the intention of inflicting damage or other unpleasantness upon another individual. It may occur either in retaliation or without provocation. In humans, frustration due to blocked goals can cause aggression. (Anderson and Bushman, 2002).

Aggression can take a variety of forms, which may be expressed physically, or communicated verbally or non-verbally: including anti-predator aggression, defensive aggression (fear-induced), predatory aggression, dominance aggression, inter-male aggression, resident-intruder aggression, maternal aggression, species-specific aggression, sex-related aggression, territorial aggression, isolation-induced aggression, irritable aggression, and brain-stimulation-induced aggression (hypothalamus). There are two subtypes of human aggression: (1) controlled-instrumental subtype (purposeful or goal- oriented); and (2) reactive-impulsive subtype (Akert et.al. 2010).


Depression is a state of low mood and aversion to activity that can affect a person's thoughts, behavior, feelings and sense of well-being. People with a depressed mood can feel sad, anxious, empty, hopeless, helpless, worthless, guilty, irritable, ashamed or restless. They may lose interest in activities that were once pleasurable, experience loss of appetite or overeating, have problems concentrating, remembering details or making decisions, and may contemplate, attempt or commit suicide. Insomnia, excessive sleeping, fatigue, aches, pains, digestive problems or reduced energy may also be present. Depressed mood is a feature of some psychiatric syndromes such as major depressive disorder, but it may also be a normal reaction to life events such as bereavement, a symptom of some bodily ailments or a side effect of some drugs and medical treatments. (Salmans, 1997).

Aims and Objectives of the Present Study:

The present study is an attempt to compare the psychosocial facades of orphans (biological and legal) as compared to those of non-orphans.

The aims of the present study are –

  1. To find out whether there is any difference among the three sets of subsamples of biological orphans, legal orphans and non-orphans with respect to intelligence.
  2. To find out whether there is any difference among the three sets of subsamples of biological orphans, legal orphans and non-orphans with respect to impulsivity.
  3. To find out whether there is any difference among the three sets of subsamples of biological orphans, legal orphans and non-orphans with respect to aggression.
  4. To find out whether there is any difference among the three sets of subsamples of biological orphans, legal orphans and non-orphans with respect to depression.
  5. To find out whether there is any gender difference in their intelligence.
  6. To find out whether there is any gender difference in their impulsivity.
  7. To find out whether there is any gender difference in their aggression.
  8. To find out whether there is any gender difference in their depression.
  9. To find out whether there is any difference between the two sets of subsamples of children with average intelligence and children with below average intelligence with respect to impulsivity.
  10. To find out whether there is any difference between the two sets of subsamples of children with average intelligence and children with below average intelligence with respect to aggression.
  11. To find out whether there is any difference between the two sets of subsamples of children with average intelligence and children with below average intelligence with respect to depression.


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