Discuss the influence of childhood and/or adolescent experiences on adult relationships. (9 + 16 marks)
Many attachment psychologists argue that early relationships with our primary caregivers provide the basis for later adult relationships. Bowlby called this the continuity hypothesis. This is the claim that early relationship experiences continue in later adult relationships. Attachment theory suggests that a young child develops an internal working model from their first relationship with a primary carer. The internal working model is what we believe about ourselves, others and the world.
Bowlby claims this model determines the quality of our furture relationships. Peer relationships and romantic relationships will be affected according to this view.This is a deterministic view. It suggests that we have no control over the effect our childhood will have on our future and that we do not have free will.
Children's relationship with peers are called horizontal relationships. This is a relationship between individuals who are of similar status or power. These relationships provide young people with the opportunity to develop and practice relationship skills and abilities.
Attachment theories suggest that the child's attachment classification may influence their popularity with peers so that a child who has a secure attachment style should be more confident in interactions with friends. This is supported by a longitudinal study by Lyons (1993). He suggested that infant attachment type at 18 months was the best predictor of problematic relationships with peers in five year olds. Those who were disorderly attached seemed to struggle the most with making friends. This suggests that relationship experiences in early…