Patterns and Predictors of Stability and Change in Representations of Romantic Relationships in Adolescence and Young Adulthood

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Electronic Theses and Dissertations

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Flansburg, Claire Stephenson
Digital Commons @ DU
Adolescence; Attachment; Romantic Relationships; Psychology
thesis / dissertation description
Research on the stability of attachment representations across the lifespan has led to two alternative perspectives: the prototype and revisionist perspectives (Fraley, 2002). The prototype perspective posits that there is a stable factor underlying fluctuations in representations and the revisionist perspective argues that there is no inherently stable factor. The current study employed a latent trait-state model to investigate these alternative models of stability and change in representations of romantic relationships in adolescence and young adulthood. The study also sought to identify individual characteristics and relationship experiences that are associated with changes in representations. In a sample of 200 participants, representations were assessed by interview and self-report over seven measurement occasions between ages 15 and 23. Results were consistent with the prototype perspective emphasizing that a stable, latent factor exerts a consistent influence over the lifespan. In addition to a stable component, representations incorporated a component that varies over time. Findings showed that this fluctuating component of representations was associated with internalizing and externalizing symptomatology as well as experiences of support and negative interaction in relationships.