Attachment

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Attachment refers to the emotional bond (love) between infants and their mothers or mother-like caregivers and, later, between adult romantic partners and one's own children. Attachment theory is an evolutionary/developmental theory of the origin and nature of such bonds: it is concerned with the adaptive function of the capacity to establish such bonds as well as the social-emotional experiences and psychobiological mechanisms involved in the development of individual differences in attachment. In infants and children the primary adaptive function of attachment is to elicit parental investment. It is also thought that the attachment process is involved in fostering the development of locally adaptive adult reproductive strategies and modulating adult stress reactivity. In adults its primary adaptive functions are in pair-bonding and providing parental investment. There are three main kinds of individual differences in attachment: secure, insecure-avoidant, and insecure-ambivalent (or anxious). Secure attachment is associated with consistently available, sensitive, responsive, and accepting caregiving; insecure-avoidant attachment is associated with more caregiver rejection; and insecure-ambivalent attachment is associated with inconsistent caregiving. The mental component of attachment is the "internal working model," or cognitive-emotional schemas or scripts of attachment relations. Secure internal working models are associated with higher and more positive emotional, cognitive and health functions than insecure internal working models. Attachment in monkeys and apes is broadly similar to that in humans, albeit apparently less intense in terms of adult pair-bonding. Recent research finds that captive reared chimpanzees show improved cognitive and emotional development when allowed to develop secure attachment with human caregivers. The attachment process and internal working models may be related to "theory of mind" (understanding one's own and others' behavior in terms of beliefs, desires and intentions), the ability to form close emotional bonds not only with caregivers, romantic partners and one's own children but also with symbolic attachment figures, objects or entities, including group leaders, groups themselves, and ideas (e.g., Gods, families, clans, nations, etc.), and social exchange.

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