Between 1938 and 1942, while the U.S. was preoccupied with the end of the Great Depression and its entry into World War II, researchers in Boston were busy embarking on a study of adolescent boys and their family relationships. Some 60 years later, different researchers followed up with the participants and found that those raised in warmer family environments were more securely attached to their partners in the later years of life—a testament to the enduring influence of early childhood experiences.
In a study published last week in Psychological Science, co-authors Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, and Marc Schulz, a psychologist at Bryn Mawr College, combined many decades of data previously gathered on a group of men with data they recently collected on the same men to offer a unique long-term perspective on the connection between early childhood environment, how men regulate emotions in middle age and the security of their attachments in intimate relationships late in life. Their work is a continuation of Harvard University’s Study of Adult Development, a longitudinal study of adult health and well-being that spans almost seven decades.
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