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What Is Attachment?

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Definition:

According to psychologist Mary Ainsworth, attachment "may be defined as an affectional tie that one person or animal forms between himself and another specific one – a tie that binds them together in space and endures over time." Attachment is not just a connection between two people; it is a bond that involves a desire for regular contact with that person and the experience of distress during separation from that person.

Why Is Attachment Important?

Attachment serves a number of important purposes. First, it helps keep infants and children close to their caregivers so that they can receive protection, which in turn helps boost their changes of survival. This important emotional bond also provides children with a secure base from which they can then safely explore their environment.

Researchers including Ainsworth, Bowlby, Main and Solomon also suggest that how a child is attached to his or her caregivers can have a major influence both during childhood and later in life. They have identified a number of different attachment styles to describe the affectional bond children have with their parents or caregivers.

The failure to form a secure attachment with a caregiver has been linked to a number of problems including conduct disorderd and oppositional-defiant disorderd. Researchers also suggest that the type of attachment displayed early in life can have a lasting effect on later adult relationships.

More Psychology Definitions: The Psychology Dictionary

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