The Influence of the Parent-Child Relationship on the Formation of Adult Interpersonal Relationships

Jenkins, Cynthia L. , Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Abidin, Richard, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Sheras, Peter, CU-Human Svcs, University of Virginia
Richards, Herbert, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Emery, Robert, AS-Psychology, University of Virginia

Investigators have demonstrated that developmental history has an impact on both child and adult social functioning. In the present study, interrelationships among adult perceptions of the early parent-child relationship, adult attachment style, sociability, and three types of adult relationships (marital, friendship, and parenting) were investigated. Four hypotheses were examined: (a) early family experience will be related to and able to discriminate adult attachment styles; (b) early family experience will be most strongly related to the quality of the marital relationship, less strongly related to the friendship relationship and least strongly related to the parenting alliance relationship; (c) sociability will be unrelated to the quality of adult relationships; (d) adult attachment style will be related to the three adult relationships with individual's with a secure attachment style more likely to report healthy and satisfying relationships. Finally, path analyses were examined to evaluate the unique relationships between early relationship experience, adult attachment style, sociability and adult interpersonal relationship.

In a non-clinical sample of 188 adults (72 men and 116 women) mixed support for the hypotheses was found. Early relationship history was significantly related to adult attachment style, and both were related to the marital and parenting alliance relationships, but not to the friendship relationship. As hypothesized sociability was unrelated to the quality of adult relationships. Findings were discussed in terms of the gender differences identified and the directions for future research.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
social functioning, developmental history, sociability, alliance, relationships analysis, psychological functioning
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