A positive family climate in adolescence is linked to marriage quality in adulthood

January 31, 2013

(Medical Xpress)—Experiencing a positive family climate as a teenager may be connected to your relationships later in life, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

While research has demonstrated long-term effects of aggression and divorce across generations, the impact of a positive family climate has received less attention. Psychological scientist Robert Ackerman of the University of Texas at Dallas and colleagues wanted to examine whether positive interpersonal behaviors in families might also have long-lasting associations with future relationships.

The researchers examined from individuals participating in the Iowa Youth and Families Project. Family interactions were assessed when the participants were in 7th grade. The interactions were coded for five indicators of positive engagement: listener , assertiveness, prosocial behavior, effective communication, and warmth-support.

Participants who showed and experienced more positive engagement in their families showed more positive engagement in their marriages 17 years later. Interestingly, their spouses also showed more positive engagement. Participants who came from families that expressed more positive engagement also expressed less toward their spouses, and their spouses displayed less toward them.

Greater levels of positive engagement at the family level in adolescence also predicted more for both partners.

At a basic level, the findings suggest a link between the family climate in adolescence and marriage quality later in life. The fact that these effects seemed to extend to participants' spouses was especially interesting.

"Perhaps one of the most striking results from this work was that the quality of one marital partner's family climate during adolescence was associated with marital outcomes for the other partner," the researchers observe.

Family dynamics could foster a supportive style of interacting that elicits similar behavior from a spouse down the road; but it could also be that individuals who grew up in families with a positive and warm climate actively seek out partners who provide a similar relationship environment. The researchers speculate that both mechanisms may be at work.

Ultimately, these results are consistent with the Development of Early Adult Romantic Relationships (DEARR) model, suggesting that early family experiences are linked to the development of a person's relationship style into adulthood.

Explore further: Early relationships, not brainpower, key to adult happiness

More information: www.psychologicalscience.org/i … sychological_science

Related Stories

Early relationships, not brainpower, key to adult happiness

August 2, 2012
Positive social relationships in childhood and adolescence are key to adult well-being, according to Associate Professor Craig Olsson from Deakin University and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute in Australia, and ...

Mother-son ties change over time, influence teen boys' behavior

August 30, 2011
Relationships between mothers and their sons change during childhood and adolescence. However, not all relationships change in the same way, and how the relationships change may affect boys' behavior when they become teens.

Recommended for you

Children with fragile X syndrome have a bias toward threatening emotion

August 23, 2017
Anxiety occurs at high rates in children with fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common form of inherited intellectual disability. Children with co-occurring anxiety tend to fare worse, but it can be hard to identify in infants. ...

So-called "bright girl effect" does not last into adulthood

August 23, 2017
The notion that young females limit their own progress based on what they believe about their intelligence—called the "bright girl effect"—does not persist into adulthood, according to new research from Case Western Reserve ...

Like adults, children show bias in attributing mental states to others

August 22, 2017
Young children are more likely to attribute mental states to characters that belong to the same group as them relative to characters that belong to an outside group, according to findings published in Psychological Science, ...

High moral reasoning associated with increased activity in the human brain's reward system

August 22, 2017
Individuals who have a high level of moral reasoning show increased activity in the brain's frontostriatal reward system, both during periods of rest and while performing a sequential risk taking and decision making task ...

Yoga and meditation improve mind-body health and stress resilience

August 22, 2017
Many people report positive health effects from practicing yoga and meditation, and experience both mental and physical benefits from these practices. However, we still have much to learn about how exactly these practices ...

Wealth disparity and family income impact the brain development of female youth

August 22, 2017
Female teenagers living in neighbourhoods with wide salary gaps and a low-income household show changes to their brain maturation that could indicate a higher risk of developing mental illness in adulthood, suggests a recently ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.