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6 - Close Relationships across the Life Span: Toward a Theory of Relationship Types

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 September 2009

Frieder R. Lang
Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenburg, Germany
Karen L. Fingerman
Purdue University, Indiana
Keiko Takahashi
Department of Psychology, University of the Sacred Heart, 4-3-1 Hiroo Shibuya-ku, Tokyo 150-8938, Japan
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In this chapter I discuss how to conceptualize and study individual patterns of close relationships consisting of multiple significant others. The discussion consists of three parts. First, I review previous research on close relationships to clarify which aspects of social relationships have already been studied and which have not been fully understood. Then I use the affective relationships model to examine how the important, but not sufficiently studied, aspects of social relationships from young childhood to old age can be conceptualized. Finally, I discuss the effectiveness of the typological analysis of this model and future directions of this research.


From the time they are born into society, humans are exposed to a variety of social relationships, and are naturally directed toward having interactions with multiple significant others for their survival, safety, and well-being. However, most researchers have focused on dyadic relationships, such as with the mother in infancy (Ainsworth, Blehar, Waters, & Wall, 1978; Bretherton & Waters, 1985; Cassidy & Shaver, 1999; Kobak & Hazan, 1991), with a friend in childhood (Dodge, Pettit, McClasky, & Brown, 1986; Jones & Vaughan, 1990; Parker & Gottman, 1989; Urberg, Degirmencioglu, Tolson, & Halliday-Scher, 1995), and with a romantic partner in adolescence and adulthood (Hazen & Shaver, 1987, 1990; Shaver, Hazen, & Bradshaw, 1988).

Growing Together
Personal Relationships Across the Life Span
, pp. 130 - 158
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2003

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