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For healthy development to unfold, a child needs supportive, reliable relationships with adults. Attachment theory, originating in the work of John Bowlby, examines how early social interactions contribute to a child’s later functioning. This theoretical model has generated important research exploring the dynamics and developmental significance of a child’s relationship with primary caregivers. More recently, attachment theory has been extended to stress research in order to elucidate how attachment figures regulate the activity of stress-responsive hormones and protect the developing brain and body from their potentially deleterious effects. This entry first defines attachment theory, then discusses the role of attachment relationships in regulating stress. It then discusses how researchers study attachment and stress, some key research questions, recent research results, and gaps remaining in ...

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