Relationships - Influences of childhood and adolescents

Looking at how early relationships effect us in adulthood.

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Adult love and attachment styles

Hazan and Shaver (1987) used Bowlby and Ainsworth's ideas about how relationships in childhood effect those is adulthood. They used a "love quiz" in a local newspaper. They have 620 volunteers, of men and women, aged 14 - 82 (with a mean age of 36). The quiz asked about romantic relationships they had and the relationship with their parents.


They found that the percentage in the 3 styles of attachment were very close to those of infants. 

Secure - 66% 56%

Insecure avoidant - 22% 24%

Insecure resistant - 12% 20%

(Black for Ainsworths findings and Blue for Hazan and Shaver's findings)

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Adult love and attachment styles cont. (AO2/AO3)

It was also found that the attachment style people had as children continued onto adulthood and the adult relationships reflected the attachment type (e.g. securely attached children had long lasting relationships as adults and believed in love). Insecure avoidant didn't believe in love and feared closeness, insecure resistant felt intense emotions like jealousy and untrusted people. 

Feeney and Noller (1990) found that securely attached adults had the longest lasting relationships. 

McCarthy (1999) Found that women classified as insecure avoidant had the greatest difficulty in romantic relationships.

Schachner and Shaver (2002) found those who were insecure avoidant were more likely to accept casual sex. 

These studies support the idea that relationships are a continuation of early attachment, consistent with the findings and ideas of Bowlby and Ainsworth

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Adult love and attachment styles cont. (AO2/AO3)

These support the idea of adult relationships being a continuation of early relationships attachment styles. These findings are consistent to those found by Ainsworth and Bowlby.

However, the studies rely on retrospective data, which can be questioned on how accurate the data is. The studies only provide correlational data, therefore contributing factors can be ignored. Hamilton (1994) found that securely attached children can become insecure after a traumatic life event. 

Hazan and Shaver recognise that there is problems with the way they measured attachment styles, as ptps had to choose 1 of 3 statements. It is argued that this is not a valid way of measuring such complex behavior. Parkes (2006) argues that this is a reductionist approach. A continuation of of the strange situation (**) would have provided more valid results.

Poor childhood relationships doesn't mean a continuity of poor adult relationships. Rutter et al (1991) found that insecure child could develop secure, stable relationships in adulthood.

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Adolescent experiences (AO1)

As we grow up the influence of our parent's decrease, but the influence of our peers (e.g. friends) increases, as we rely on them more for support. Peers help us to become independent and develop social skills. Blos (1967) suggests that peers offer a 'way station' on the route to individuation and separation. 

Nangle et al (2003) argues adolescent friendships are a way to develop and improve emotional and intimacy relationships, different from those we experience with our parents. 

Peers replace parents as the primary basis for support, while the adult world is explore. These relationships usually involve affection, a sense of intimacy and sharing secrets. A close friend provides that feeling of trust, acceptance and being accepted, qualities that are needed in future romantic relationships. 

Kircher et al (1993) argues that those who don't develop peer relationships, but stay attached to their parents would have trouble developing relationships later. 

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Adolescent experiences (AO2/AO3)

It has been found that autonomy is very healthy, peer relationships should be developed along with a close relationship with parents. Coleman and Hendry (1999) called this 'connectedness'

Larson et al used pager to see what 10-18 year olds did throughout the day and found the amount of time with parent's sharply decreased, but the amount of time with peers increased, suggesting that peers are used to supplement the parent's, not replace them. Peers help develop skills for adult relationships. 

Madsen (2001) found that those who had low or moderate dating between 15 - 17 experienced higher quality and more satisfaction when they reached 20/21, where as individuals who were 'heavy daters' during adolescence had poorer quality relationships. Madsen concluded too much relationships had a negative effect. 

Haynie (2003) found that romantic involvement in adolescents increased some deviant relationships by up to 35% in those who had regular romantic relationships. 

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Adolescent experiences (AO2/AO3)

Neeman et al (1995) found that increased levels of romantic involvement decreased academic achievement and increased behavioral problems.  

However, research has challenged the negative effects of adolescent interactions found by Madson. Roisman et al (2004) found no effect on romantic relationships during adolescent at the age of 20, or even 30. This suggests there is no consistence evidence that adolescent relationships are the 'building blocks' of adult relationships. 

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it's great that AO2/3 are actually mentioned here, it's well structured too. so useful!

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