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Title: Attachment style, intimacy and trust in young adulthood - a reflection of perceived parental sensitivity
Authors: Verschueren, Karine ×
Marcoen, Alfons #
Issue Date: 1993
Publisher: Société Belge de Psychologie
Series Title: Psychologica Belgica vol:33 issue:1 pages:49-76
Abstract: Bowlby's hypothesis that emotional security and autonomy experienced in the early attachment relationship with parents, are causally related to later relational competence, was explored. Seventy-six students (62 girls. 11 boys and 3 of unknown gender), aged between 18 and 23 years (Mean age = 19.5 years) completed the Parental Bonding Instrument (Parker, 1983), which was used to probe for perceived emotional warmth and autonomy support, or in short perceived parental sensitivity, during childhood and adolescence. Relational competence measures included the subscales ''trust'' and ''intimacy'' of the Erikson Psychosocial Stage Inventory (EPSI) (Rosenthal el al., 1981), the subscales ''friendship'' and ''dating'' of the Revised EPSI (McPhail Gray et al., 1986) and an adult attachment style measure (Hazan & Shaver, 1987). Eleven weeks after the first assessment, 45 subjects (42 girls and 3 boys) completed the same instruments for a second time. Concurrent and time-lagged relationships between perceived parental sensitivity on the one hand and the relational variables on the other hand, were examined. Results indicated that perceived parental sensitivity was positively associated with basic trust and the capacity for intimacy and for friendship, even when parenting characteristics and relational competence were assessed 11 weeks apart. For mother, the perceived emotional warmth seemed especially important. For father, the perceived autonomy support beared the strongest relationship with later relational competence. In this study, parental sensitivity was not significantly associated with the young adults' attachment style, nor with their readiness for a one-to-one exclusive relationship (dating). Although conclusions about causal relations would be premature, the present study certainly invites for further exploration of Bowlby's hypothesis.
ISSN: 0033-2879
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:School Psychology and Development in Context
Centre for Developmental Psychology (-)
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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