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W Andrew Collins

Professor Emeritus
Ph.D., 1971, Stanford University

Institute of Child Develpment
Room 104B
51 E River Rd


Social development, family and peer relationships, significance of close relationships.

Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation

Trajectories and processes of change in close relationships are the focus of my current research. My research team is currently investigating two aspects of this topic. In one line of work, we are conducting intensive interviews and observation with the participants in the project, who are now in their middle thirties, and with their romantic partners. The goal is to examine functioning in these intimate relationships as a manifestation of competence appropriate to young adulthood. We have documented links between the characteristics of these relationships and earlier history of relationships with parents and with peers from infancy through adolescence. Recently, we have discovered that these earlier histories also predict patterns of consistency, change, and qualities of romantic experiences between the ages of 16 and 26 and to the nature of emotional experiences in these adult relationships. Work is continuing to examine interrelations of romantic experience with the transition to parenthood and with competence in work adult roles. For example, we are examining the role of early relationship experiences in fostering the ability to achieve balance among these common adult roles.

In addition, we are studying alternative developmental pathways leading to competencies traditionally associated with adolescent development. For example, we have documented links between competence in early and middle childhood and patterns of both behavioral and emotional autonomy in late adolescence. We also have shown that a history of supportive social relationships with parents and with friends is associated with constructive patterns of identity exploration in middle adolescence and in early adulthood. On-going studies focus on links between these aspects of competence in childhood and adolescence and subsequent participation and competence in romantic relationships and young adult work roles.

Selected Publications

  1. Salvatore, J. E., Simpson, J. A., & Collins, W. A. (in press).  Antecedents of emotion in romantic relationships:  A developmental perspective.  In L. Campbell & T. Loving (Eds.), The development of close relationships:  An interdisciplinary integration.  Washington, D. C.:  American Psychological Association.

  2. Salvatore, J.E., Kuo, S. I., Steele, R. D., Simpson, J. A., & Collins, W. A. (in press). Recovering from conflict in romantic relationships: A developmental perspective. Psychological Science, 22, 376-383.

  3. Madsen, S. D., & Collins, W. A. (in press). The salience of adolescent romantic experiences for romantic relationship qualities in young adulthood.  Journal of Research on Adolescence.

  4. Oriña, M. M., Collins, W. A., Simpson, J. A., Salvatore, J. E., Haydon, K. C., & Kim, J. S. (in press).  Developmental and dyadic perspectives on commitment in adult romantic relationships.  Psychological Science, 22

  5. Simpson, J.A., Collins, W.A., & Salvatore, J.E. (in press).  The impact of early interpersonal experiences on adult romantic relationship functioning:  Recent findings from the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Risk and Adaptation.  Current Directions in Psychological Science.

  6. Englund, M., Kuo, S., Puig, J., & Collins, W.A.  (in press).  Early roots of adult competence:  The significance of close relationships from infancy to adulthood.  International Journal of Behavioral Development.

  7. Haydon, K.C., Collins, W.A., Simpson, J.A., Roisman, G.I., & Salvatore, J.E.  (in press). Shared and distinctive origins and associations of adult attachment representations: The developmental organization of romantic functioning. Child Development.