The Effects of early experiences and culture on adult relationships.

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The influence of childhood and adolescent experiences. 

Bowlby suggested in his attachment theory that early attachment with their primary care giver gave the basis of attachment in later life, this idea was called ‘continuity hypothesis’. The attachment theory suggests that children create an internal working model (IWM) from their first relationship with their primary care giver. This model consists of views on themselves being loveable or not, a basis on who is trustworthy and who to rely on. The child will also build characteristic attachment styles which will influence their relationships in later life.

Ainsworth, Bell and Staydon (19 71), characterised the different styles of attachment into secure (type B), insecure avoidant (type A) and insecure ambivalent (type C). There has been research to see whether these types of attachments influence the relationship statue in later life through to adulthood.

Relationships with peers.

Children’s relationships with their peers, friends and siblings are characterised as horizontal relationships. Peer relationships give young people the chance to develop social competence (relationship skills and abilities).

The attachment theories suggest that children’s attachment classification dictated their level of popularity with their peers. If the child has a secure attachment then they are more likely to be more confident with their friends. In support of this Waters,Wippman and Sroufe (19 79), Jacobson and Willie (19 86) and Lieberman (19 77) found that children that have been classed as attached that they will go on to be more socially skilled that children that have been classified as insecure. Lyons-Ruth, Alpern and Repacholi (19 93) found that in a longitudinal study the attachment status in 18 month old infants was a better predictor of difficult relationships as a 5 year old and type D attachments found it difficult to make friends. Hartup et al (19 93) suggested that children with secure attachments were more likely to be more popular in nursery and will engage in social activities. In contrast Sroufe and Fleeson (19 86) found that children with insecure attachment would rely on teacher’s interactions and emotional support. These studies support the claim that secure attachments with parents enable children to be able to be good at later relationships.

However there is an alternative theory which also predicts continuity between the child’s relationships wit their parents and their later relationships, the social learning theory. This theory suggests that children learn relationships skills from their parents through observations and imitations. In support of this theory Parke (19 88) suggests that the child’s family influence and modify the child’s social behaviour to help them develop their social skills. Russell and Finnie (19 90) observed Australian pre-school children and their mothers in a situation were the child was introduce to unfamiliar peers. The children who were suggested strategies of interaction from their mothers were seen as the popular ones and the children who were encouraged to play but no suggestive strategies given were not as popular. This study therefore suggests that rather than attachment types, popular children get the social


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