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Discuss the influences of childhood on adult relationships

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Many psychologists would agree that childhood experiences can shape later adult relationships. One researcher that studied this was Shaver. They claimed that our infant relationships shape our adult relationships in 3 ways; attachment, caregiving and sexuality. Attachment suggests that later relationships are a continuation of early attachment types, with possible attachment disorders forming. Through caregiving, our knowledge of caring is learnt by modelling the behaviour of our primary care giver. And the sexuality system is learnt, e.g. avoidant attachment styles are more likely to view sex without love as pleasurable. Hazen and Shaver tested ?is love in adulthood directly related to attachment type as a child?? they conducted a love quiz. Participants based their answers using experiences from previous love relationships and infant care attachments. They found that 64% had a secure attachment, and that childhood experiences within their family will repeat in their adult lives. ...read more.


However, studies with correlation can?t be proven as it?s impossible to establish cause and effect, meaning that insecure attachment may be due to temperament or other factors. Another study that supports this theory is Morrison. They asked US college students to complete a questionnaire describing their most recent relationship, and their attachment type was assessed. They found that insecurely attached participants described more hostility in their relationships, and securely attached described more independence. This supports as it shows that having a secure attachment in childhood leads to functional adult relationships, better than those of other attachment types. However there are ethical issues with this research as some of it can be socially sensitive. They may not be protected from harm if there was evidence of abuse in a past relationship then the participant may be asked to think back to, also for reasons like this there would be issues with privacy, as any leaked details may be dangerous for such participant and lead to more possible harm. ...read more.


This study has a high external validity as a longitudinal study allows researchers to observe changes in behaviour first hand, rather than relying on a retrospective view. Another criticism can be suggested by Neeman who found that although research suggests adolescent relationships can be healthy for adulthood, it can negatively affect adult life. He found that romantic involvement in early and middle adolescence was associated with a decrease in academic performance and an increase in behavioural problems. This criticises Madsen as it suggests that it?s the timing of romantic relationships in adolescence that determines what influence they will have, not the idea of whether they do or don?t date in adolescence. Many studies conducted on childhood and the influence of it on adult relationships are conducted in the US, this means we can?t necessarily apply them to other collectivist cultures that experience childhood and adolescence differently than to those in western cultures. This suggests that the research is culturally biased and therefore is not a universal explanation and cannot be generalised. ...read more.

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