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Social Development from Infancy to Adulthood


Early childhood development remains a broadly debated topic and it covers voluminous work by different scholars. This paper will analyze the topic on social development from infancy to adulthood by giving a comprehensive summary of two articles. The first article is Social Development from Infancy to Adolescence: Longitudinal and Concurrent Factors in an Adoption Sample by Nicole Jaffari-Bimmel, Femmie Juffer, Marinus van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, and Ab Mooijaart.

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This article examines the “role of infant attachment, maternal sensitive responsiveness, and child temperament on the social adjustment of the adolescents observed before the age of six months to young adulthood” (Jaffari-Bimmel et al., 2006, p. 1144). The second article is Social emotional development: from Infancy to young adulthood by Gunilla Bohlin and Berit Hagekull. This article compares the early characteristics in childhood to the later personality and adjustment in adolescence. The two articles will be discussed in depth to show that social adjustment from infancy to adulthood is dependent on the environment that the children are brought up, viz. child-caregiver relationship as well the external factors.

Article 1: “Social Development from Infancy to Adolescence: Longitudinal and Concurrent Factors in an Adoption Sample”

The study was conducted in the Netherlands and it was accepted and published in May 2006. Longitudinal studies were carried out covering one-hundred and sixty internationally adopted infants of 75 boys and 85 girls. The measurements were taken at various stages of development from infancy through middle childhood to adolescence (Jaffari-Bimmel et al., 2006). The longitudinal studies on adopted children were used to determine the relation between the individual child traits and parenting patterns from time to time with no reference to genetic interplay. The Dutch-adopting families were selected randomly through Dutch organizations with the families being Caucasians of the middle class or upper middle backgrounds. The mother was supposed to be the caregiver.

Purpose of the research

The authors sought to evaluate the “role of infant affiliation, maternal sensitive responsiveness, and child temperament on the social adjustment of the adolescent adopted before the age of six months” (Jaffari-Bimmel et al., 2006, p. 1144). The study examined the following approaches to determine the most suitable to adopt or if they could be compatible in their application. The first approach preferred early experiences as crucial in predicting a child’s adaptation to adulthood. The second emphasized on present experiences, while the third focused on both early and concurrent experiences as being crucial to child adjustment. The final approach emphasized that early experiences were very influential since they mold the initial developmental traits, which constrain influences on later development (Jaffari-Bimmel et al., 2006).


Results tabled at the age of 7 years of adjustment indicated that children found to have admirable social development had infant warm care and security and they progressed to middle childhood with favorable childcare. Social development in adolescents was found to be a combination of developmental experiences and concurrent factors as well as child traits. This study identified that changes in adjustment were well explained by the maternal interaction variations and the environment. This aspect implied that the behavioral traits of the children are determined by the way the mother interacts with a child as well as the external social factors in school with the teachers and fellow schoolmates.

Conclusion and future recommendations

After analyzing the results, the authors concluded that development is an interrelationship between varying environment and an adjusting individual’s life, but keeping into account that initial experiences cannot be ruled out since they indirectly construct future adaptation via their impact on early developmental stages. In addition, early experiences are influential, but they do not necessarily add up to the final shaping of the child since adjustment might be altered by changes in parental social support, life events, or stress. The limitations included the fact that the study involved only the mother as the caregiver, and thus future studies should incorporate father-child relations, since they have potential effects to child development. In addition, the authors were limited to maternal sensitive responsiveness as the only parenting dimension; hence, future studies should include other factors such as discipline and cognitive stimulation.

Article 2: “Social emotional development: from Infancy to young adulthood”

The authors conducted the study at the Uppsala University Hospital in Sweden and the surroundings for a period of 21 years starting from 1985. “Mothers of all infants born during 11 specified weeks in 1985 at the Academic Hospital in Uppsala were approached. Of these, 62% (N = 123) of the mothers agreed to participate in the study” (Bohlin & Hagekull, 2009, p. 593). One hundred and four fathers were also incorporated in the study with most of the parents being highly educated. First visitations to kick-start the research were made when the infants were 6 weeks old. At the later age of 21, most of the children had joined universities abroad and others had been incorporated in the workforce. Data was collected by sending questionnaires and interviews follow-ups in the colleges and at the workplaces.

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Purpose of the research

Longitudinal data was used to examine two observable sections; first, presenting an overview of the predictors of temperament, attachment, and social factors for early age social emotional adjustment between ages 8-9. The second tabulated results from data collected at age of 21 years by examining the relevance of early experiences to the development of social anxiety indicators at age 21. The research aimed at establishing the impact or influence that parent-child relationship has towards the social development of an individual from infancy to young adulthood (Bohlin & Hagekull, 2009).


Children who had sufficient attachment security from their parents during the early age were found to exhibit strong personalities at middle childhood at 7years by having ease of communication and being less rebellious. Findings show that attachment security in infancy is necessary for influencing the development of social competence in middle to young adulthood. However, social factors for childhood adjustment such as parental care, closeness, and parent-child engagements were seen as key to preventing social phobic anxiety indicators associated with shyness and less social involvement.


The article concluded that early childhood experiences were found to interplay with adjustment to young adulthood at 21 years. In addition, social factors such as parental warmth were seen to have moderating functions, but also direct impacts were manifested. Non-parenting or poor parenting trajectories were found to influence the adjusting of the child negatively especially at age four. This aspect created a sense of insecurity, thus leading to lack of self-esteem. Crossing to adolescent and young adulthood, children who lacked attachment were seen to develop signs of depression and shyness. Although the research used a moderately detailed model, the authors called for multi-analytic models to examine developmental projections in individuals (Bohlin & Hagekull, 2009).


The two articles were well articulated by involving empirical evidence with simple, but comprehensive data collection and analysis procedures, thus giving the reader the ease of understanding and integration ideas for future research. The two articles used broad samples and from different perspectives covering a long period. For instance, the first article examined children from adopting families by showing that developmental traits were independent of genetic composition. The second article examined children who were brought up by biological parents, and it indicated that developmental changes were determined by social factors and attachment with biological traits playing minimal role if any.

The two studies act as a simple guide to parents and caregivers by articulating the important stages in child development and the way children should be handled at different stages for well-disposed adjustment. Both articles show that children should be monitored closely and the caregivers should cultivate a feeling of social security in early childhood to create self-actualization for favorable transition to adolescent. Since the two articles are highly educative despite failing to incorporate wide scope of coverage, the upcoming research should build on the current knowledge and focus at alleviating the gaps existing in the current research. For example, the first article used only maternal sensitive responsiveness as the sole parenting dimension in the study, and thus future papers should include wide dimensions such as societal impacts, identity crises, culture, beliefs, and practices among others.


Bohlin, G., & Hagekull, B. (2009). Socio-emotional development: From infancy to young adulthood. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 50(6), 592–601.

Jaffari-Bimmel, N., Juffer, F., IJzendoorn, H., Bakermans-Kranenburg, J., & Mooijaart, A. (2006). Social Development from Infancy to Adolescence: Longitudinal and Concurrent Factors in an Adoption Sample. Developmental Psychology, 42(6), 1143-1153.

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StudyCorgi. (2020, November 6). Social Development from Infancy to Adulthood. Retrieved from


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