Psychology Unit 3 - Relationships - Early experience and Culture

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  • Created on: 08-06-13 10:32

Influence of childhood on adult relationships

  • The quality and types of relationships differ between individuals:
  • some are happy with long-term relationships
  • some are happy with temporary less passionate relationships
  • some individuals seem lucky in love while others go from one disterous relationship to another
  • Bowlby (1951) believed that the type and quality of relationship that individuals have with their primary care givers provides foundation for adult relationships by forming and internal working model that acts as a template for the future.  This is the continuity hypothesis, the belief that similar relationships will occur as an adult.
  • There are several attachment styles that a child can develop in infancy through the strange situation: Ainsworth (1971) divided these into secure, insecure avoidant and insecure resistant. 
  • attachment style provides children with a set of beliefs about themselves and others and the nature of relationships.
  • the continuity hypothesis sees attachment types as predicting the nature of adult relationships.
  • therefore someone who is securely attached as a child will have similar relationships throughout life, even with their own children
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Influence of childhood on adult relationships

Hazan and Shaver (1987) applied Bowlby's theory to adult relationships, arguing that early attachment patterns affect three areas of adulthood: romantic relationships, caregiving and sexuality.

Bowlby made repeated references to attachment being a lifespan phenomenon for which two hypotheses can be made:

  • Attachment behaviour characterises human beings through life
  • Patterns established in childhood through parent child relationships structure the quality of bonds in adult relationships.

Hazan and Shaver's (1987) study addressed both hypotheses as well as other aspects of attachment theory 

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Attachment styles and partner choice

evidence suggests that there is intergenerational continuity between adults' attachment styles and those of their children.

Research: securely attached individuals

  • Belsky (1999) FOUND - that observational studies of couples' interactions during problem solving and self disclosre tasks indicated that secure men engage more in positive and supportive interactions with partners than insecure men do.
  • Simpson (1992) FOUND - that when female members of college dating couples were confronted with a stressful situation, securely attached women sought more emotional support and accepted more physical contact from their male partners than inseccure women did. 
  • Collins and Read (1990) FOUND - that when dating couples were asked about their mental models, the securely attached tended to choose partners who were also securely attached.
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Attachment styles and partner choice

Research - insecure attached individuals

insecure avoidant types:

  • Miller and Fishkin (1997) reported that insecure men desired a greater number of sexual partners ocer the next 30yrs.
  • Simpson (1990) reported similar findings of dating college student who scored high on avoidance scoring lowest on commitment and trust and that they also tended to be attracted to avoidant partners
  • Belsky FOUND - that insecure avoidant types had relationships that tended to be opportunistic and self-serving rather than mutually rewarding and were short lived. 

insecure resistant types:

  • the evidence here is less plentiful and objective, but one important finding = Kunce and Shaver (1994) FOUND - that resistant women reported the highest levels of compulsive caregiving. 
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Evaluation - Attachment styles and partner choice

WEAKNESSES

  • Steele et al (1998) found a small correlation of 0.17 between having a secure attachment type in childhood and early adulthood, contradicting the continuity hypothesis
  • Attachment types dont appear as fixed as first thought.  Hamilton (1994) found that securely attached children became insecure as a result of negative life events
  • Having a childhood insecure attachment doesnt necessarily equate with poor quality adult relationships.  Rutter et al (1999) reported that individuals without secure attachments to their parents went on to form secure, stable adult relationships
  • Levitt (1991) believes that people have expectations of relationships and although some of these expectations come from previous relationship experiences, not all do; therefore other factors contribute the the quality of adult relationships
  • May be other factors contributing to link between child and adult relationships
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Interactions with peers

  • relationships with peers also influence later adult relationships
  • peers become more influential as children progress into adolescence, playing a significant role in individuals becoming indpendent adults, helping to develop social skills - including those needed for adult relationships
  • peer relationships dont replace adult attachments; they are just another type of attachment
  • peer relationahips differ from attachments with adults as they are horizontal relationships between indivdiuals of equal status
  • there are 2 stages in the development of adolescent peer relationships

1. friendship cliques form of small groups of the same sex around 12yrs of age.

2. at about 14yrs several cliques of both sexes merge together to form groups.  from these groups individuals will form into romantic couples

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Research - Interactions with peers

Meier et al (2005) 

FOUND - that both type and quality of adolescent relationships relate to type and quality of adult relationships, suggesting a link between the two

Hartup (1996)

Reported that popular children had positive devlopmental outcomes, while unpopular children didnt, which could contribute to the quality of adult relationships

Kahn et al (1985) 

FOUND - that students who hadnt developed strong identities, due to poor attachment experiences in infancy, had less success in later relationships.  Males were likely not to be married and females were likely to be seperated.

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Evaluation - Interactions with peers

WEAKNESSES

  • deterministic - percieve childhood attachments as causing later adulthood relationships... other factors could be influential
  • Hartup (1993) thought it is difficult to calculate the impact of childrens peer relationships on adult relationships, as there is a need to differentiate between having friends, who the friends are and the quality of friendships
  • Furman (1999) believed that because peer relationships are on equal footings, they provide opportunities for cooperation and mutual altruism that arent present in child adult relationships, and these qualitites are important in forming successful romantic relationships
  • Doesnt take into account gender differences
  • Culturally specific
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

  • In western cultures = people choose own partners on basis of romantic attraction and they date before making commitments
  • Other cultures have traditions such as arranged marriages
  • Arranged marriages = family choose who their children marry 
  • In the west arranged marriages are looked upon negatively however world wide they are more common and there is much evidence showing that arranged marriages are generally successful
  • Pressure in areas where arranged marriages take place is immense to stay together which could be why their divorce rate is much lower than love marriages
  • Such cultures see divorce as bringing shame upon the whole family - some cultures disregard divorce completely
  • Divorce rates in western cultures may be higher where voluntary marriage is practised becasue people have the freedom to get divorced
  • Cultures where arranged marriages are present are usually those where women have fewer rights than in western areas
  • Mixed cultures e.g. in Britain has led to forced marriages and refusal to marry results in murder or encouragement to commit suicide due to shame being brought upon the family
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Influence of culture on romantic relationships

  • Arraganged marriages rarely take place between those who do not know each other
  • Parents make great efforts to partner their children with someone they like, find attractive and have feelings for 
  • Dating sites are available for arranged marriages 
  • In 2/3 of the world a man or his family pay dowry for his bride and in return he gets her labour and child bearing qualities
  • Moghaddam et al (1993)  point out that western cultures are individualistic in nature and this shapes attitudes towards romantic relationships, which are based on the view point of the individual, as voluntary and somewhat temporary.  Collectavist cultures tend to be based on the needs of the group as a whole and are more involuntary, as with arranged marriages, and more permenant
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Research - Influence of culture on romantic relati

LeVine et al (1993) 

asked young people from 11 different countries if they would marry someone whom they didnt love if they had all the qualities they desired in a marriage partner.  More people in collectivist cultures than in individualist cultures said yes.  e.g. 49% of Indians compared to 3.5% of Americans and 7% of English people 

SUPPORTING the idea that people from traditionalist cultures marry for reasons other than romantic love.  

Umadevi et al (1992)

looked at female student preferences for love marriages and arranged marriages in India. Arranged marriages were seen positively as long as the two intended partners consented. However love marriages were preferred too, so long as there was parental approval, demostrating the importance of the opinions of the whole family in Indian society.

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Research - Influence of culture on romantic relati

Gupta and Singh (1982) 

looked at 100 Indian marriages of proffessional, eduacated couples, 50 of which were arranged marriages and 50 of which were love marriages.

Couples were assessed after 1,5 and 10 years of marriage

In love marriages love and liking were intially high but decreased over time 

In arranged marriages love and liking were intially low but grew and exceeded the level of love marriages after 10years

SUGGESTS that arranged marriages are more successful over time than love marriages

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Research - Influence of culture on romantic relati

Gupta and Singh (1982) 

looked at 100 Indian marriages of proffessional, eduacated couples, 50 of which were arranged marriages and 50 of which were love marriages.

Couples were assessed after 1,5 and 10 years of marriage

In love marriages love and liking were intially high but decreased over time 

In arranged marriages love and liking were intially low but grew and exceeded the level of love marriages after 10years

SUGGESTS that arranged marriages are more successful over time than love marriages

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Evaluation - Influence of culture on romantic rela

STRENGTHS

  • Divorce is easier option in western cultures as plenty more opportunity to make new relationship
  • Arranged marriages are in place to ensure people find a partner in those culture otherwise likelihood would be many of them would never have a partner
  • Western cultures = easy to find a partner

WEAKNESSES

  • May be wrong to thing in western/non-western cultures and instead think of urban and non-urban to be more up-to date
  • Simmel (1971) believed that western individualistic cultures have higher divorce rates becasue individuals are perpetually looking for an ideal partner
  • Self report data used - may make answers up to fit in with culture, traditions and other people
  • personal reasons for divorce arent considered 
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