Are Childhood Experiences with Parents Linked to Feelings in Romantic Relationships During Adulthood?

  • Zoe Apostolidou


During the last three decades, attachment theory has been one of the most influential theories of social-emotional development in modern psychology stimulating a great amount of research in the fields of developmental, clinical and social psychology (Hazan & Diamond, 2000; Fraley & Shaver, 2000; Meyer & Pilkonis, 2001; Mikulincer & Florian, 1999). Its contribution rests in the fact that it has provided a broad and deep understanding of personality processes and human development and interactions in childhood and adulthood. Moreover, it has demonstrated that attachment behavior is a major component of the human behavioral equipment throughout life, and that early experience plays a determinative role in the emergence and organization of secure-base behavior (Posada et al., 1999).


Ainsworth, M. D., & Bowlby, J. (1991). An ethological approach to personality development. American Psychologist, 46, 333-341.

Barber, B. K. (1996). Parental psychological control: Revisiting a neglected construct. Child Development, 67, 3296-3319.

Baumrind, D. (1971). Current patterns of parental authority. Developmental Psychology Monographs, 4, 2.

Brennan, K. A., Clark, C. L., & Shaver, P. R. (1998). Self-report measurement of adult attachment: An integrative overview. In J. A. Simpson & W. S. Rholes (Eds.), Attachment theory and close relationships (pp. 46-76). New York: Guilford.

Bretherton, I. (1992). The origins of attachment theory: John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth. Developmental Psychology, 28, 759-775.

Britton, C. P., & Fuendeling, J. M. (2005). The relations among varieties of adult attachment and the components of empathy. The Journal of Social Psychology, 145, 519-530.

Cassidy, J. (2000). Adult romantic attachments: A developmental perspective on individual differences. Review of General Psychology, 4, 111-131.

Chen, X., Liu, M., & Li, D. (2000). Parental warmth, control, and indulgence and their relations to adjustment in Chinese children: a longitudinal study. Journal of Family Psychology, 14, 401-419.

Collins, N. L., & Freeney, B. C. (2000). Asafe haven: An attachment theory perspective on support seeking and caregiving in intimate relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78, 1053-1073.

Elliot, A. J., & Reis, H. T. (2003). Attachment and exploration in adulthood. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 85, 317-331.

Ferrari, J. R., & Olivette, M. J. (1993). Perceptions of parental control and the development of indecision among late adolescent females. Adolescence, 28, 963-968.

Fox, R. A., Platz, D. L., & Bentley, K. S. (1995). Maternal factors related to parenting practices, developmental expectations, and perceptions of child behavior problems. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 156, 431-441.

Fraley, C. R., & Shaver, P. (2000). Adult romantic attachment: Theoretical developments, emerging controversies, and unanswered questions. Review of General Psychology, 4, 132-154.

Fraley, C. R., Spieker, S. J. (2003). What are the differences between dimensional and categorical models of individual differences in attachment? Reply to Cassidy (2003), Cummings (2003), Sroufe (2003), and Waters and Beauchaine (2003). Developmental Psychology, 39, 423-429.

Freeney, J. A., & Noller, P. (1990). Attachment style as a predictor of adult romantic relationships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 281-291.

Joiner, T. E., & Metalsky, G. I. (1998). Reassurance-seeking: Delineating a risk factor involved in the development of depressive symptoms. Unpublished manuscript.

Hazan, C., & Diamond, L. M. (2000). The place of attachment in human mating. Review of General Psychology, 4, 186-204.

Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 511-524.

Lewinsohn, P. M., & Rosenbaum, M. (1987). Recall of parental behavior by acute depressives, remitted depressives, and nondepressives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 52, 611-629.

Lopez, G. F., & Hsu, P. (2002). Further validation of a measure of parent-adult attachment style. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 34, 223-237.

Meyer, B., & Pilkonis, P. A. (2001). Attachment style. Psychotherapy, 38, 467-472.

Mikulincer, M., & Florian, V. (1999). The association between parental reports of attachment style and family dynamics, and offspring's reports of adult attachment style. Family Process, 38, 243-257.

Mikulincer, M., Gillath, O., & Shaver, P. R. (2002). Activation of the attachment system in adulthood: Threat-related primes increase the accessibility of mental representations of attachment figures. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 83, 881-895.

Parker, G., Tupling, H., & Brown, L. B. (1979). A parental bonding instrument. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 52, 1-10.

Pettit, G. S., Laird, R. D., Dodge, K. A., Bates, J. E., & Criss, M. M. (2001). Antecedents and behavior-problem outcomes of parental monitoring and psychological control in early adolescence. Child Development, 72, 583-599.

Posada, G., Jacobs, A., Carbonell, O. A., Alzate, G., Bustamante, M. R., & Arenas, A. (1999). Maternal care and attachment security in ordinary and emergency contexts. Developmental Psychology, 35, 1379-1388.

Shaver, P. R., Schachner, D. A., & Mikulincer, M. (2005). Attachment style, excessive reassurance seeking, relationship processes, and depression. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 31, 343-359.

Shaw, A. B., Krause, N., Chatters, M. L., Connell, C. M., & Ingersoll-Dayton, B. (2003). Social structural influences in emotional support from parents early in life and adult health status. Behavioral Medicine, 29, 69-79.

Tolmacz, R., Goldzweig, G., & Guttman, R. (2004). Attachment styles and the ideal image of a mate. European Psychologist, 9, 87-95.

Waters, T. (2004). Learning to love: from your mother's arms to your lover's arms. The Medium, 30, 1-4.