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Ayisha J

on 17 February 2014

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Childhood provides us with experiences that shape how we interact with the world around us when we are older.
Parent child relationships
Attachment, caregiving and sexuality; Shaver et al (1988) claimed that what we experience as romantic love in adulthood is an integration of three behavioral systems acquired in infancy- attachment, caregiving and sexuality systems. Attachment is linked to the concept of internal working model, John Bowlby (1969) later relationships are a continuation of early attachments (secure, insecure) it leads the infant to expect the same relationships. Extreme cases can lead to attachment disorder. Caregiving is the knowledge of how to care for others, learnt from primary attachment figure. Sexuality is also learned in relation to early attachment e.g. individuals who suffered from an avoidant attachment are more likely to hold the view that sex without love is pleasurable.
Effects of childhood abuse on later relationships; physical abuse has psychological effects on adults functioning e.g. such individuals are more likely to report depression, anger and anxiety that non-abused people (Springer et al 2007). Childhood sexual abuse is also linked to psychological impairment in adult life, victims have difficulty in forming relationships in later life. Individuals who have suffered both types of abuse in childhood develop a damaged ability to trust people and a sense of isolation from others (Alpert et al 1998). Van der kolk and Fisler (1994) found such individuals form disorganized attachments instead of secure. This leads to a difficulty in regulating emotions, essential for maintenance of relations.
Parental relationships- research support; many studies have shown support between attachment style and later adult relationships. Fraley (1998) conducted a meta-analysis finding correlations between this, he suggested that one reason for low correlations may be because insecure-anxious attachment is more unstable. However a person's attachment type is determined by the current relationship e.g. happily married couples are secure. Attachment theory does suggest that significant relationship experiences may alter attachment organization e.g. Kirkpatrick and Hazan (1994) found that relationships break-ups were associated with shift from secure to insecure attachment.
Research support for the influence of childhood abuse; Berenson and Andersen (2006) provides support for the claim abused children have a difficult time developing adult relationships. They found that adult women displayed negative reactions towards others such as expectation of rejection, but only with people who reminded them of their abusive parent. They concluded that this process of transference could lead people abused in childhood to use inappropriate behavioral patterns learned from abusive relation in other relations.
IDA Insights from non-human species; experiments involving social deprivation are not possible with human children due to ethical issues. A comparative study of non-human primates can provide evidence of the necessity of peer interaction for adequate adjustment in adulthood.Suomi and Harlow (1978) established that rhesus monkeys reared with adequate adult but inadequate peer contact later displayed inappropriate social and sexual behavior as adults.
Simpson et al (2007) in an ongoing longitudinal study spanning more than 25 years, 78 pps were studied at four key points- infancy, early childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Caregivers reported on their children's attachment behavior at 1 yrs old. At 6-8 teachers were asked to rate their interactions with peers, 16 pps asked to describe their close friendships, as young adults their partners were asked to describe their experiences. Findings supported the claim that expression of emotions in adult romantic relationships can be related back to a person's attachment experiences during early social development. Securely attached has higher social competence as children, were closer to friends at 16 and were more expressive and emotionally attached to romantic partners in early adulthood.
Interaction with peers
Childhood friendships; Qulater and Munn (2005) have shown that children also learn from their experiences with other children. The way that a child thinks about himself and others is determined at least in part by specific experiences, when they become internalized.Hence children may develop a sense of their own value as a result of interactions with others, which in turn determines how they approach adult relationships. Nangle et al (2003) claim that children's friendship are training grounds for important adult relationships. Close friendships are characterized by affection, sense of alliance, sharing of personal information. The experience of having a friend to confide in promotes feelings of trust and acceptance- characteristics that are also important for later romantic relations.
Adolescent relationships; in later stages of childhood attachment shifts from parents to peers. Romantic relationships in adolescence serve a number of purposes, first they help achieve the goal of separation from parents. Shifting attachment allows adolescents redirect energy to romantic partner. Second romantic relations allow the adolescent to gain a type of emotional and physical intimacy that is different to the one experienced with parents. Madsen (2001) tested the effects of dating behavior in adolescence (15-17) on quality of young adult romantic relationships (20-21). She found that moderate or low dating frequency predicted higher-quality young adult relations, whereas heavy dating led to poor quality adult relations. This suggests that too much dating in adolescence can be maladaptive.
Gender differences; in childhood relationships has been found by a number of studies e.g. Richard and Schneider (2005) found that girls have more intimate friendships than boys and are more likely to report care and security in relations with other girls. Erwin (1993) found that boys relationships tend to be more competitive, in contrast girls are more likely to engage in cooperative sharing activities. However Erwin claims that sex differences in the experience of childhood relationships have been over-emphasized and many similarities tend to be overlooked.
Negative effects; although research suggests that romantic relationships in adolescence can be healthy for later relationships, it may also have negative effects. Haynie (2003) found that romantic involvement increased some forms of deviance in adolescents by as much as 35%. Neemann et al (1995) found that romantic involvement earlier on led to a decrease in academic achievement and increase in conduct problems. In late adolescence romantic involvement was not linked with these negative outcomes, suggesting timing is everything. Madsen's finding that heavy dating during adolescence are associated with poorer quality adult relationships is challenged by Roisman et al (2004), who found no effect of romantic experiences at age 20 on romantic relationships at age 30.
IDA Determinism in the development of adult relationships; research such as Simpson et al (2007) suggests that very early experiences have a fixed effect on later adult relationships therefore children who are insecurely attached at one year of age are doomed to experience emotionally unsatisfactory relationships as adults. This is not always the case, as researchers found many cases that had happy adult relations despite not having secure attachments as infants.
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