Discuss the influence of childhood on adult relationships (8+16)

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  • Created by: Iqra97
  • Created on: 26-04-16 08:14

AO1 - Parent-child relationships

Shaver et al (1988), claimed what we experience as romantic love in adulthood is an integration of 3 behavioural systems acquired in infancy - attachment, caregiving and sexuality.  Our relationship with our primary caregiver will reflect our adult relationships - the continuity hypothesis (Bowlby). Though vicarious learning.  Bowloby suggests that the attachment type we have with our primary carer creates an internal working model of relationships. The IWM is a view of how loveable they are, how others should treat them and whether or notsignificant other can be trusted. It forms a blue print of romantic interaction. Therefore our adult romantic relationships reflect our IWM. We learn how to give care to another through our primary attachment figure. Or views on sex may also be affected for example insecure avoidant types may view sex as pleasurablle without love. In extreme cases a child's internal working model leads them to develop an attachment disorder.

Securely attached = Reliable, responds to childs neds, View on relationships - love is nduring. Trusts their partner, less likely to be divored, sex as part of a loving relationship.

Insecue avoidant = Cold and unresponsive, child does not respod when left by primar care giver. View on relationships - fears closeness, does not see love as necessary for happiness. Relaionships can be short live, less forgiving.

Insecure resistan = preoccupied by finding love, falls in love easily but finds it hard to maintain, have emotional extremes of jealousy and passion. View on relationships - preoccupied by finding love, falls in love easily but finds it hard to maintain, have emotional extremes of jealousy and passion.    

The caregiving system is knowledge about how one cares for others, learned by modelling the behaviour of the primary attachment figure.

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AO1 - Effects of childhod abuse on later relations

Physical abuse in childhood has a number of negative effects on adult psychological functioning. Springer et al (2007), depression, anger and xiety are more common in adults who faced physical abuse in childhood.

Childhood sexual abuse has also been associated with psychological impairment in adult life. Research suggests that children who have faced sexual abuse often find it hard to form healthy adult relationships.

Alpert 1998 - Children who have faced both physical and sexual abuse find it hard to trust others and often isolate themselves from others. Distncing and self-isolation can hinder romantic relaionships in adulthod.

Kolk and Fisler 1994 - found that individuals who suffered childhood absue also had difficulty forming healthy attachments and formed disorganised attachments instead. These disorganised patterns of attachment lead to a difficulty in regulating emotions, a key aspect in forming and maintaining healthy relationships  

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AO2 for continuity hypothesis

Simpson et al, carried out a longitudinal study with 78 participants who were studied at infancy, early childhood, adolescence and adulthood. Caregivers reported on their children's attachment behaviour at one years. At 6-8 years children's teachers were asked to rate how well the children interacted with their peers. At 16, PPTs were asked to describe their close friendships, and as young adults, PPTs' romantic partners were asked to describe their romantic experiences. Findings of this study supported the claim that expression of emotions in adult romatic relationships can be related back to a person's attachment experiences during early social development. Researchers found that those PPTs who were securly attached as infants were rated as having higher social competence as children. Children who were socially competent at ages 6-8 were found to be closer to their friends at age 16. Finally those who were closer to their friends as 16 years olds were more expressive and emotionally attached to their romantic partners in early adulthood. Therefore, supporting the continuous hypothesis as attahcment style does effect their adult relationships as those who were securly attached has a higher social competence, leading to them being more eprssive and emotionally atached to their romantic relationships.

The study is longitudinal thus doe not relay on participants retrospective recall thus increasing the study's internal validity. Also does not rely on self-report.  

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AO2 for continuity hypothesis

  • However, it could be that an individual's attachement type is determined by the current relationship, which is why happily married individuals are secure. Attachment theory does suggest that significant relationship experiences may alter attachment organisation, for example Kirkpatrick and Hazan found that relationship break-ups were associated with a shift from secure to inseure attachment. Thus criticising the continuous hypothesis as the attachment style can change depending on the current relationship it is not fixed.
  • Most research into this correlational asks people to recall their attachment experiences and then describe their adult relationships. This can be flawed as correlations cannot establish a cause and effect. For example life events rather than attachment styles could be more of a determinant e.g. what if you are securely attached s an infant and then your parents divorce. Previous relationships, peer groups and the media can also have an influenceon adult relationships. Relys on retrospective recall however, memories of childhood may be repressed.
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IDA for continuity hypothesis

The continuity hypothesis is deterministic it takes away the individuals free will. This is because the theory suggests that the romantic relationships we form is determined by our primary carer and the attachment stye we formed in ealry childhood. Early experiences have a fixed effect on later adult relationships and therefore, children who are insecurely attached at one year of age are doomed to experience emotionally unsatisfactory reltionships as adults. However this is not always the case, Rutteret al suggests that some insecurely attached people go on to form very loving and secure relationships as they have seen the negative influences of their experience. Kagan proposed the temperament hypothesis, sugesting that infants are born with certain characteristics such as being easy or difficult. This affects the attachment style with the parent and continues to manipulate relationships throughout their lives. Thus attachment styles may be determined by the nature of the infant not the parent. Therefore, this theory is deterministic as it denies free will of the individual.

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Interaction with Peers - Childhood friendships

Most children are not restricted to a relationship with their parents but with  friends, siblings etc. These are known as horizontal relatiosnhips as the individuals have similar status/power.

Qualter and Munn, 2005 - have shown that children also learn from their experiences with other children. The way that a child thinks about himself and others is determined at least in part by specific experiences, which then become internalised. As a result children may develop a sense of their own values due to interactions with others, which in turns determines how they approach adult relationships. 

Nangle et al, 2003 - suggested that childhood friendships are the training ground for secure adult relationships. Close friendships are characterised by affection, a sense of alliance and intimacy and the sharing of secrets and personal information. 

The experience of having a friend to confide in promotes feelings of trust, acceptance, and a sense of being understood - characteristics that are also important in later romantic relationships. 

Much research suggests that children with secure attachments already from their parents will be more able to form good friendships so attachment style will impact on peer relationships.

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Adolescent relationships

In later stages of childhood, attachment shifts from parents to peers to start the process of detachment from the family. 

Romantic relationships in adolescence helps to achieve the goal of speration from parents. Having shifted the attachment focus from parents to peers, adolescents can redirect intensepersonal energy towards their romantic partner. They also alllow the adolescent to gain a type of emotinal and physical intimacy that is quite different from that experienced with parents.

Masden, 2001- tested the effects of dating behaviour in adolescence (15-17 1/2) on the quality of young adult romantic relationships (20-21). She found that moderate to low dating frequency predicted higher quality young adult relationships, whereas heavy dating predicted poorer quality young adult relationships. This suggests that some dating in adolescence is advantageous for adult relationship quality, but too much can be maladaptive. 

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AO2 for interaction with peers

  • Gender differences have been found in a number of studies regarding childhood relationships, giving rise to gender bias research. Richard and Schneider (2005) found that girls have more intimate freindships than boys, and are more likely to report care and security in their relationships with other girls. Other research has found that boys' relationshi[s tend to be more competitive, and in contrast girls are more likely to engage in cooperative and sharing activities. Therefore, we can appy this theory to the whole population thus lacks population validity. These gender differences are preparing them for adult relationships in an evolutionary aspect. As boys are the chosen so hence are more competitive whereas girls adopt a role of caregiving thus are more likely to engage in cooperative and sharing activities.
  • Romanitic relationships in adolescents have found to have negative impact on later adult relationships. Haynie (2003) found that romantic involvement increased some forms fo deviance in adolescents by as much as 35%, and Neemann et al (1995) found that romantic involvement in early to middle adolescence was associated with decrease in academic achievement and increase in conduct problems. Therefore, romantic relationships in adolescents can be quite detrimental. However, late adolescent romantic involvement was no longer related to these negative outcomes, suggesting that it is the timing of romantic relationships in adolescence that determines what influence they will have. Roisman et al, found no effect of romantic experiences at age 20 on romantic relationshi[s at age 30, suggesting that there is no consistent evidence that adolescent romantic relationships are the building blocks of adult romantic relationships. There is no conclusive evidence
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IDA for interaction with peers

Research into the impact of peers on adult relationships cannot cannot be experiementally tested on human children as it is unethical to seperate a child from their peers until adulthod to see the effects therefore conducting studies on animals is the only way we can gain insight into certain topic areas. A series of studies by Suomi and Harlow (1978) established that rhesus monkeys reared with adequate adult but inadequate peer contact later displayed inappropriate social and sexual behaviour as adults. The longer they were denied the opportunity to interact with other younger monkeys, the more extreme were their social inadequancies as adults. This provides supporting evidence into the effects of peers on romantic relationships, but how far we can generalise the findings on rhesus monkeys to humans is questionable. As the results are not as undermining of parent-child relationships effect on adult relationships as those of a study carried out on humans would be. Furthermore, human behaviour is a lot more complex, as we are influenced by many things around us such as the media can shape our idea into what a romantic relationship should be like. Therefore findings from research in this area cannot fully be generalised to humans thus lacks population validity

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