Influence of Childhood and Adolescent Relationships on Adult Relationships

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Bowlby suggests that there is a direct link between childhood relationships and adult relationships. He suggested that individuals develop an internal working model of the self in relationship to the primary attachment figure, based in early experiences. The internal models influence the child’s expectations about future relationships. Adult relationships are likely to reflect early attachment styles. (secure or insecure)

This was illustrated in the ‘love-quiz’ experiment by Hazan and Shaver (1987). They conducted a study where they collected information from people about their early attachment experiences and their current romantic attitudes and experiences. They found that people who were securely attached, as infants, tended to have happy and lasting love relationships in adulthood. These people also believed that love was both enduring and based on mutual trust. Insecure types, on the other hand, found adult relationships more difficult, were more likely to be divorced and felt that true love was rare.

However, the association that Hazan and Shaver found may be unreliable because to found this they did a questionnaire in an American newspaper, therefore the participants could have social desirability and so answer in a biased way to be social desirable, and they could not be saying the whole truth. Also there is retrospective data and so when the participants recall past data they could recall it wrong, therefore the answer could be biased.

Nevertheless, further support for the effects of childhood attachments on future relationships was found by Morrison et al asked colleague students in the US describing their most intimate relationship. They also completed an attachment style inventory to asses their attachment style. He found that students with avoidant attachment style described more hostility in their relationship than did students with a secure style. Those with greater attachment security also described more interdependence in their

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