The Construction of Experience: A Longitudinal Study of Representation and Behavior

Elizabeth A. Carlson, L. Alan Sroufe, Byron Egeland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

173 Scopus citations


Continuity in relationship representation and developmental links between relationship representation and behavior from infancy to late adolescence were examined using longitudinal data from a risk sample (N = 185). Significant correlations were found among diverse representational assessments (e.g., interview, drawing, projective narrative) and between representational and concurrent observational measures of relationship functioning. Structural equation models were analyzed to investigate the relations among caregiving experience in infancy; relationship representation and experience in early childhood, middle childhood, and early adolescence; and socioemotional functioning in adolescence. A model representing interactive contributions of representational and behavioral experience represented the data significantly better than a model representing noninteractive contributions. Findings support an organizational developmental view that socioemotional adaptation arises from the progressive construction of mutually informing expectations and experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)66-83
Number of pages18
JournalChild development
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2004


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