Outline and Evaluate the Influence of Childhood Experiences on Adult Relationships

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Outline and evaluate the influence of childhood experiences on adult relationships

Adult relationships are not just influenced by biological or inherited factors. Upbringing, socialisation and childhood also play an important part in later adult relationships. Attachment is the emotional tie between two people that is shown in their behaviours. Attachment theory, put forward by Bowlby, argues that childhood relationships are prototypes for ones adult relationships. There is some evidence for this claim, but it is not wholly supported.

According to attachment theory, at an early, a child develops an internal working model (IWM) from their first relationship with their primary care giver. This consists of a view of themselves as loveable or otherwise, a model of other people as trustworthy or not to be relied on, and a model of the relationship between the two. Young children also develop characteristic attachment styles in their early relationships which influence later relationships by providing the child with beliefs about themselves, other people and relationships in general. The theme of this is known as the continuity hypothesis. Hazan and Shaver (1987) researched the link between infant or childhood attachment types and adult relationships. They found that securely attached children, who had secure and close relationships with their parents, developed secure, stable and loving relationships with their adult partners. Insecure-avoidant children, who had cold and rejecting mothers, developed insecure adult relationships with high levels of jealousy and fear of rejection. This shows that childhood attachment styles correlate strongly with adult relationship styles; however the research is based on a self-report questionnaire with retrospective questions that try to explore childhood attachments through the participant’s own (biased) childhood memories, this therefore reduces the validity of their results. Another concern with this study is that it assumes...
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