Mothers and Lovers: From Parenting to Romance
Most of us would probably agree that our early childhood experiences influence who we become as adults. But this is actually a fairly provocative notion. And especially provocative is the idea that our upbringing–the quality of the parenting we get–has long-term implications for how we later interact with other adults, including our intimate partners.
This is not an easy connection to study for a couple of reasons. It takes a lot of time and planning to study people from childhood into adulthood, and what’s more, neither parenting quality nor the quality of romantic relationships is easily and objectively analyzed.
But now a team of psychological scientists has found ways to surmount these obstacles. K. Lee Raby of the University of Delaware, working with several colleagues at the University of Minnesota, has been using adults’ physiological responses–rather than self-reports–to characterize interactions between adult romantic partners. Such measures reflect automatic responses operating outside consciousness, so they are also less susceptible to the biases that limit the usefulness of self-reports. The scientists are able, simply and harmlessly, to measure changes in skin conductance, which is an indicator of changes in nervous system activity, which is in turn an indicator of the quality of interactions with —> Read More Here