Love Roots in Earliest Infancy

ScienceDaily (Dec. 14, 2011) — The ability to trust, love, and resolve conflict with loved ones starts in childhood — way earlier than you may think. That is one message of a new review of the literature in Current Directions in Psychological Science, a journal published by the Association for Psychological Science.

"Your interpersonal experiences with your mother during the first 12 to 18 months of life predict your behavior in romantic relationships 20 years later," says psychologist Jeffry A. Simpson, the author, with University of Minnesota colleagues W. Andrew Collins and Jessica E. Salvatore. "Before you can remember, before you have language to describe it, and in ways you aren’t aware of, implicit attitudes get encoded into the mind," about how you’ll be treated or how worthy you are of love and affection.

While those attitudes can change with new relationships, introspection, and therapy, in times of stress old patterns often reassert themselves. The mistreated infant becomes the defensive arguer; the baby whose mom was attentive and supportive works through problems, secure in the goodwill of the other person.

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