Discuss psychological research which has looked at the influence of childhood experiences on adult relationships

HideShow resource information

Psychology Unit 3

Discuss psychological research which has looked at the influence of childhood experiences on adult realtionships


1 of 7

1.Bowlby's Theory

Internal Working Model

The internal working model developed due to the individual's primary attached figure

Internal working models of attachment continues information on:

  • how reliable a person is likely to be
  • what sort of emotional experience to expect
  • how disappointment will be handled

Continuity Hypothesis

This states that the type of attachment developed is linked to the type of adult romantic relationship.

2 of 7

Study: The Love Quiz

Hazan and Shaver's Love Quiz

A newspaper quiz created to collect information about early attachment experiences and current romantic attitudes

It was found that those securely attached tended to have happy, long lasting relationships and those rated insecurely attached found relationships difficlt and were more likely to be divorced


Doesn't take into consideration those who didn't read the newspaper

May have been that more of a certain type of people read that newspaper

It had difficulty corroborating accurate data

Does support continuity hypothesis

3 of 7

Study: Simpson et al.

78 participants studied at key points in their life:

  • Age 1: Caregiver reports attachment
  • Age 6: Teachers rated child's interaction
  • Age 16: Participant asked to describe close relationships
  • Young Adult: Romantic partners asked to describe their relationship

Findings: Infants rated securely attached had higher levels of social competence and were more emotional attached to romantic partners


Longitudinal study: impossible to control variables and makes it difficult to accurately determine cause and effect

Small sample of participants: difficult to generalise to the population

4 of 7

2. Social Learning Theory

Hay and Vespo

Attachment occurs because parents teach children to love them

The development of future peer relationship is explained by:

  • Role modelling
  • Direct instruction
  • Social facilitation

If parents are loving the child learns desirable social behaviour

If parent aren't loving the child will find it difficult to interact positively with peers

5 of 7

Study: Morrison et al.

College students filled out a questionnaire on their current or most recent intimate relationship

They also completed an attachment style inventory


Students with ambivalent or avoidant attachments reported more hostility in a relationship than those with secure attachments.

6 of 7



Reductionist: Many studies don't take into consideration other approaches such as evolutionary explanation


Most research shows support for childhood influences on adult relationships.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Psychology resources:

See all Psychology resources »See all Research methods and techniques resources »