Childhood experiences on adult relationships essay

This is an essay I wrote that has everything you need to know on how childhood experiences effect adult relationships. This is an A grade essay but goes into more detail than is necessary for the actual exam. Hope its useful.

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Chloe Derby 13AGO
Discuss the influence of childhood experiences on adult relationships (24 marks)
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 John Bowlby, argues that childhood relationships set the scene for later adult relationships. There
is some evidence for this claim, but it is not wholly supported.
According to attachment theory, the young child develops an internal working model (IWM)
from their first relationship with their primary carer. 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.
Attachment theories suggest that the child's attachment classification may influence their
popularity with peers so that the child who has a secure attachment style should be more confident in
interactions with friends. Considerable evidence has supported this view. Waters, Wippman and
Sroufe (1979), Jacobson and Willie (1986) and Lieberman (1977) have all found that children
classified as `secure' go on to be more socially skilled in their friendships than both types of insecure
children. Hartup et al. (1993) argues that children with a secure attachment type are more popular at
nursery and engage more in social interactions with other children. In contrast, insecurely attached
children tend to be more reliant on teachers for interaction and emotional support (Sroufe and
Fleeson, 1986). These studies support the claim that secure attachments with parents enable
children to be good at later friendships.
However, an alternative explanation of the link between attachment type and childhood
popularity/peer relationships is offered by social learning theory. This approach also predicts a
continuity between the child's relationship with their parents and their ability to make friends, as it
suggests that children will learn relationship skills from their parents via modelling ­ observation and
imitation. Parke (1988) argues that families indirectly influence their child's later relationships as they
guide and modify the child's social behaviour to help them develop social skills. Russell and Finnie
(1990) found that `popular' children had mothers who suggested interaction strategies. In contrast,
`neglected' children had mothers who encouraged children to play with toys and materials. This
study therefore suggests that rather than attachment type, popular children may simply be those
whose caregiver's model and teach important social skills.
Another thread of research has considered the possibility of continuities between childhood
and adult relationships. Hazan and Shaver (1987) set out to test the question `Is love in adulthood
directly related to the attachment type as a child?' They used a Love Quiz to test two samples. The
first consisted of 215 man and 415 women (aged between 14 and 82) randomly selected, the
second group consisted of 108 students with a mean age of 18. They found a strong relationship
between childhood attachment type and adult attachment type. Secure types had relationships that
lasted, on average, twice as long as those classed as insecure. This study is useful as it generates
large amounts of data from which generalisations can be made. However it is subject to demand
characteristics and participants may give socially desirable answers when describing relationships.

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Chloe Derby 13AGO
Attachment theory helps to explain continuities between early attachment and later
friendships and relationships. This explanation can be seen as deterministic as it assumes that early
relationship experiences cause later experiences. Other factors such as life events can influence later
relationships, making the link probabilistic rather than deterministic, making this an example of `soft
determinism'. Zimmerman et al. (2000) found that child attachment type does not predict adult
attachment type.…read more


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