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Attachment Theory

Definition

An attachment refers to the strong emotional bond that exists between an infant and his or her caretaker. The theory of attachment is designed to explain the evolution of that bond, its development, and its implications for human experience and relationships across the life course. Although attachment theory has primarily been a theory of child development, since the 1980s, the theory has had a large impact on social psychological theories of close relationships, emotion regulation, and personality.

History and Background

Attachment theory was originally developed by John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst who was attempting to understand why infants experience intense distress when separated from their parents. Bowlby noticed that separated infants would go to extraordinary lengths (e.g., crying, clinging, frantically searching) to either prevent separation from their ...

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