A Qualitative Study to Show How Other Affect Individual Development, Using Thematic Analysis. Essay

A qualitative study to show how other affect individual development, using thematic analysis. ABSTRACT This study will examine the ways that adults construct their own attachment experiences and relationships along and how others influence these attachments and their development. The chosen method for data collection was interviews as they provide full and detailed data for thematic analysis. Other researchers studying within the social constructionist perspective with a main focus on attachment found that attachment relationships are a central part of our lives, which can stem from childhood experiences through to later adult life.

There is also some evidence to suggest environment influences an individual. Thematic analysis was used to analyze the data collected which showed that significant others can affect an individual’s development in life. INTRODUCTION Qualitative research allows researchers to explore the experiences of individuals, with the main aim of being able to make interpretations about meanings. For this qualitative study the social constructionist perspective was chosen because it suggests the world is constructed in language.

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The main focus of the research was attachment, a main assumption for attachment research is that individuals use particular characteristics from previous relationships in new relationships; these are reflected in their behaviour towards other people. The relationships and interactions with other people influence an individual’s development, the Nurture Assumption (Judith Rich Harris as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 20) argues that children are not influenced by their parents but are influenced by their peer groups.

This idea links with the research into peer and siblings relationships, in particular the work of Schaffer (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 9) who suggests from observational studies conducted of children interacting/playing, that the children’s interactions can be multifaceted and in the main positive, supporting and sharing allowing the children to develop social understanding as well as a sense of self. Dunn (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 9) also supports the idea that peers and siblings influence each others development, her findings show that joint play allows individuals to build on and develop shared meanings.

In contrast two the evidence discussed above Bowlby (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007 p. 28 ) who is a key figure in the attachment theory and its development defined a relationship that has strong emotional bonds and is ongoing is defined as attachment usually with a significant adult. The attachment theory explores how the early relationships of an individual influence and impact on the relationships built with others in later life and how they become attached to each other. Bowlby suggested the central idea to attachment was that children ‘have a biological drive to achieve security…’ (As cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 9) and that children who experience ‘warm, intimate and continuous relationships’ particularly with their primary carer would grow up to be mentally healthy, this links with Bowlbys ideas of internal working models (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 28-9 ). Internal working models contain expectations of how other people perceive you, as well as reflecting thoughts and feelings of self relation to others, these models like attachment behaviours begin in childhood where parents act as a secure base to explore from for children.

Many of the researchers who use thematic analysis share the same ontology of individuals being able to reflect on their own experiences with the ability to make sense of the experience and produce this into language, which provides the theoretical framework. For this study the aim was to investigate how other influence individual development focusing on the Attachment Theory, this theory informs the methodology of the study and in turn guided the method of analysis and data collection.

This lead to the use of thematic analysis, the analysis was of an interview that had been videotaped and transcribed so the experiences of the individual can be explored in relation t the research question of “How do adults perceive that significant others in their lives have affected their development? ” METHOD The method for collecting data in this study was Semi structured interviews as they provide rich and detailed raw data. This type of interview allows room for discussion and the opportunity to speak freely in answer to the questions giving the participant a more relaxed feeling of a conversation not an interview.

The interview was videotaped as well as transcribed (see appendix one for full transcript) this provides the researcher with two forms of data each of which would not give the complete picture on their own. The participant was a 50 year old single British woman which ha been provided by the Open University, who gained the consent of the participant for the materials to be used. The participant was fully briefed before the interview and debriefed after the interview, the interviewer also informed the participant that she had the right to withdraw from the research at any point and also asks for the consent form to be read and signed.

When the interview had been completed thematic analysis was carried out, re-watching the videotape with the transcript to first make descriptions of what is going on, before making interpretations of the meanings presented and finally identifying any recurrent themes or ides throughout the interview, different colours were used to highlight each of the main themes so they could be referred to more effectively. ANALYSIS

Whilst reviewing the interview and transcript 3 main themes become apparent and were identified in relation to the research question of “How do adults perceive that significant others in their lives have affected their development? ” These themes were, the attachment bond with her mother, challenging the idea that things can’t be repaired or security being earned and expectations. Attachment bond with mother: The Attachment to mother affected later relationships development.

This is evident in her first marriage; Chloe acknowledged that the relationship with her mother affected her relationship. “. … I think it goes back to that thing with my Mum,…” (Chloe) [Lines 107-108] Chloe’s attachment with her mother is made very clear in many parts of the interview, as most of who she talks about is her mother and the relationship they had (Chloe)[lines 23–27 and 32–57 and 107–112 and 128–158] “How I felt was too closely linked to her and how she felt was too close …” (Chloe)[Lines 130-131]

One main feature of her childhood and early adult life was that she felt like she was betraying her mother by being happy, it was as if she was not allowed to be happy if her mother was not. “…and I’d gone away, I’d left her, I’d got married and I was very happy, so I felt really bad about that, and I felt like I was deserting her, which isn’t brilliant. ” (Chloe)[Lines 110–112] Challenging the idea that things can’t be repaired and earning security: Had a very bad start in attachment but made it good in new relationships because she broke the attachment with her mother and move away ((Chloe)[Lines 140-141]

When her father left became a significant event in her life that she links most childhood experiences back to (Chloe)[Lines 20–22] Chloe felt that she had to fill in for her dad “…fill in for my dad and sort of be, be a grown-up. I sort of did the garden and washed the car and you know, if a plug needed fixing, I would sort of fix the plug, and so I sort of took on that “I’m a strong and helpful person” role,…” (Chloe)[Lines 28-31] Earning security was something that took a long time for Chloe because her and her mother had become interwoven (Chloe)[Lines 128-129] …you’re linking how you feel in together with how somebody else feels. ” (Chloe)[Lines 133-134] Expectations The expectations Chloe had of her father she also expected of all men and was very disappointed when this was not the case (Chloe)[Lines 71-72 and] “My image of him was, you know, he was super duper, you know, he was a wonderful person and he loved me in all the, you know, in a very sort of complete way…” (Chloe)[Lines 66-68] “The things that I expected from my father, I think I also expected from various relationships as well.

So you … Expecting someone to be perfect and marvellous and to understand you and if you need something…” (Chloe)[Lines 92-95] Individuals have variations of relationships, one is referred to as a Horizontal relationship this is the interactions and expectations of other people and these relationships are usually between peers of the same age as they have similar knowledge and power. The other type of relationship is a Vertical relationship, these are an attachment to someone who has higher knowledge and more social power than you so are formed with adults, usually a parent or a teacher.

Chloe’s relationship with her mother is a Vertical relationship as she has a very strong attachment to her mother because she felt responsible for her. Chloe had a very turbulent relationship with her mother while growing up she felt the need to replace her father by doing things her father would do. Due to this she grew up very quickly and lost a large part of her childhood trying to make her mother happy. This links with the attachment theory by Bowlby (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 8-9) as she did not have the secure and stable childhood to carry forward into adulthood therefore her early attachment affected they way she developed and built new relationships in her adult life. This evidence also supports the study by Hamilton (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 33) that significant life events can affect an individual’s security. DISCUSSION The aim of this study was to investigate how people see others in their lives have affected their development focusing on the attachment theory. From the thematic analysis it is clear that Chloe’s relationship development had been affected by her attachment to her mother.

Attachment can not be generalised across different individuals or situations, it can also be affected by negative or positive experience throughout an individual’s life as shown in the Bielefield study, and this was a longitudinal study carried out by Zimmerman (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 33) to test the attachment theory. This study was conducted on forty four people, attachment was first studied through the strange situation test and then again for Adult attachment test where the data found that the strange situation test did not predict the attachment in adulthood and showed that life events had a significant impact on results.

Although the same technique was used by Hamilton 1994 (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 33) his data found that when circumstances remained stable and relatively similar over the period of testing the attachment predicted in strange situation test was a good indicator of Adult attachment and for those whose attachment changed had experienced a significant event, like Chloe when her father left at the age of eight ( “He left when I was about eight, and that’s when I sort of … that’s what I sort of link things back to the most…” (Chloe)[Lines 21-22])The interview is also supporting evidence for the ttachment theory as there is a prominent emotional bond between Chloe and her mother, something which she focuses on. Bowlby’s theory of attachment (as cited in Cooper & Roth 2007, p. 28-9) is very clear throughout the interview, exploring how the early relationships of an individual influence and impact on the relationships built with others in later life and how they become attached to each other.

Chloe’s interview supports his idea that children ‘have a biological drive to achieve security ( “…I tried to fill that gap somehow…”(Chloe)[Line 28]) it also give evidence of internal working models, Chloe had high expectations of how her father would be (“My image of him was, you know, he was super duper, you know, he was a wonderful person and he loved…”(Chloe)[Lines 66 – 67) Chloe’s interview also challenges the idea that things are fixed and can’t be changes the third main theme so it links with Anna’s story – (as cited in Exploring Psychological Research Methods 2007, p. 47-351) after being assessed and working through a supervised programme Anna moved from being an insecure mother who felt she couldn’t care for her child to being in a secure state of mind, this shows that you can repair any damage to security therefore supporting the idea that attachment and security is not necessarily fixed and that people can earn security as an adult even if they didn’t have it as a child. Overall Chloe’s interview showed she was someone who had to over come many difficulties in her childhood ad later life before she could build secure relationships with other people.

One assumption of the attachment theory is that an individual’s adulthood is a product of their childhood because the only real change is psychologically which continues to develop throughout life, this is true for Chloe, especially in her first marriage were the attachment to her other was still strong that she felt guilty being happy. On the other had Chloe did turn her relationships round she broke the strong attachment with her mother and moved away which has allowed her to now be in a very happy relationship providing evidence that people can earn security in adult life even if you didn’t have it as a child.

If this study was to be conducted again, I would suggest interviewing more people, making sure they are from different cultures and background, this would provide more evidence and help the researcher to gain a better and clearer understanding of how individuals see others in their lives affecting their development? ” REFLECTIVE ANALYSIS – 300 words Chloe appeared to have been on a journey through the interview linking all of her experiences together concluding that her difficult early relationships had an affect on the relationships developed in later life.

She had over come some very difficult times in her life which she appeared to be making sense of when integrating all of her experiences. At the end of the interview Chloe said she ha found it very interesting and enjoyable indicating she hadn’t had t answer questions she wasn’t comfortable with When Chloe was talking about having to be a grown up at the age of eight, I found this aspect particularly hard to imagine and relate to as my childhood was full of children’s activities and interactions such as playing games and climbing trees, not fixing plugs and cutting the grass.

I didn’t really relate to anything that had happened throughout Chloe’s life as my own has been completely different, I don’t think this has affected the constructed meanings in any way throughout the process. If the analysis had included data on body language and facial expressions it could have added more data to the research in which to compare with other participants who have had similar or completely different experiences. Word Count: 2,475

REFERENCES Wood, C. , Littleton, K. & Oates, J. (2007). Lifespan and Developmet. In Cooper, T. & Roth, I. Challenging Psychological Issues (2nd ed. , pp. 3. 60). Milton Keynes: The Open University Exploring Psychological Research Methods. Course Team. (2007). Milton Keynes: The Open University APPENDICES Appendix 1: Complete copy of coded Transcript for Interview with Chloe. Appendix One: The Complete coded Transcript for the Chloe Interview.


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