How Do Adults Perceive That Significant Others in Their Lives (I.E. People Who Are or Have Been Important to Them) Have Affected Their Development?


How do adults perceive that significant others in their lives (i.e. people who are or have been important to them) have affected their development?


These thematic analyses of a filmed semi-structured interview with one participant shows evidence of the influence of significant others in a person’s development.
The evidence, viewed from a Social Constructivist viewpoint shows that the construction of an internal working model is not purely deterministic.
There is also good evidence that culture can have a significant effect on the environment, therefore the experience of an individual during the time of identity development.


The researchers approached this study from a Social Constructionist perspective. Their ontology is that the participant is able to understand and communicate the relevance of the influential experiences, on himself, of significant other people during his years of maturation.

Using the format of a semi-structured interview gives the biggest scope for the participant to talk freely and openly about their beliefs and experiences.
The best way to analyse this type of study is by looking for themes that run through the data and therefore thematic analysis was used here.

The responses to the semi-structured interview are thematically analysed within the framework of attachment theory, (Bowlby; as cited in Cooper & Roth, 2007). There is focus on Bowlby’s theory of the ‘internal working model’ and the establishment of a ‘primary attachment relationship’, (Cooper & Roth, 2007), and how they can influence a person’s relationship in adulthood.
Bowlby saw the construct of these psychological elements as deterministic, whereas here the analysis is taking a more interactional, constructivist view to their creation and effect, including other theories such as ‘earned secure attachment’, (Main & Goldwyn; as cited in Cooper & Roth, 2007) and ‘adult attachment classification’, (Main et al,...