The influence of childhood and adolescent experiences on adult relationships

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  • The influence of childhood and adolescent experiences on adult relationships
    • Childhood experiences
      • Parent-child relationships
        • Shaver et al - what we experience as romantic love in adulthood is integration of 3 behavioural systems that we acquire in infancy.
          • Attachment
            • The behaviour of the primary caregiver determines how relationships are for the infant.
          • Caregiving system
            • Knowledge about how one cares for others. This is learnt from others through observation and modelling
          • Sexuality system
            • related to early attachment - individual with avoidant attachment are likely to hold the view that sex without love is pleasurable.
        • There has been research to support the relationship between attachment and later adult relationships.
          • Fraley conducted a meta-analysis of studied and found correlations from 0.10 to 0.50 between early attachment type and later relationships.
            • The correlation between attachment types and later relationships is quite weak but this research is still evidence to support the relationship between attachment type and later adult relationships.
      • Interaction with peers
        • Children learn from experiences with other children - Qualter and Munn
        • How they think about themselves and others is created by specific experiences which is then internalised.
          • Children may develop a sense of their own value which will determine how they approach adult relationships.
        • Nangle et al - children's friendships are training grounds for adult relationships.
          • The experience of having a friend to confide in promotes a feeling of trust, acceptance and a sense of being understood. These characteristics are needed in adult relationships.
        • Gender differences have been found in childhood relationships.
          • Richard and Schneider found that girls are more likely to report care and security in their relationships than boys.
            • Erwin also found that boys relationships tend to be more competitive whereas girls are more likely to engage in sharing activities.
              • However, Erwin claims that sex differences in childhood experiences have been over-emphasised and that the similarities have been overlooked.
    • Adolescent experiences
      • Parent-child relationships
        • Attachment may shape adolescent relationships.
          • Allen and Land suggest that adolescent relationships are based on an internal model of relationships that is formed from their own parent-child relationship and from their own experiences in relationships
        • Formal operational thinking allows adolescents to view their attachment relationships more objectively and compare their relationships with their parents to hypothetical ideals
          • Conclusion of the comparison may be that parents cannot meet the adolescents current attachment needs or that other relationships might meet attachment needs better than their relationship with their parents do
      • Interaction with peers
        • Romantic relationships help achieve the goal of separation from parents.
        • Romantic relationships allow teenagers to gain a type of emotional and physical intimacy that wasn't experienced with parents.
        • Madson (2001) tested the effects of dating behaviour in adolescence on the quality of young adult relationships. She found that moderate or low dating frequency predicted higher-quality young adult relationships.
          • Suggests that some dating in adolescence is advantageous for adult relationship quality.
        • Research suggests that romantic relationships in adolescence is healthy for adult relationships. However, negative effects have been found.
          • Haynie found that romantic involvement increased deviance in adolescents by 35% and Neemann et al found that romantic relationships in early to middle adolescence was associated with decreases in academic achievement. However, in late adolescent romantic involvement was no longer related to these negative outcomes.
            • This suggests that late adolescence is the right time to start an adolescent relationship that will influence adult relationships.


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