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What Is An Affectional Bond?

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Question: What Is An Affectional Bond?

According to attachment theory, an affectional bond is a form of attachment behavior that one person has towards another. Perhaps the most common example of an affectional bond is that between a parent and child. Other examples include the bond between romantic partners, friends and other family members.

Psychologist John Bowlby described the term as he developed his highly influential attachment theory. According to Bowlby, as a mother responds to the needs of her child, a strong affectional bond is formed. This bond becomes integrated into the child?s personality and serves as a basis for all future affectional ties.

Later, Bowlby?s colleague Mary Ainsworth described five criteria of affectional bonds:

  1. Affectional bonds are persistent rather than transitory.
  2. Affectional bonds are centered on a specific individual.
  3. The relationship involved in an affectional bond has strong emotional significance.
  4. The individual seeks contact and proximity with the person he or she has an affectional bond to.
  5. Involuntary separation from the individual leads to distress.

Ainsworth suggested that the addition of a sixth criteria, seeking comfort and security in the relationship, turned the tie from an affectional bond into a true attachment relationship.

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Bowlby, J. (2005). The Making and Breaking of Affectional Bonds. Routledge Classics.

Bowlby, J. (1958). The nature of the child's tie to his mother. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 39, 350-373.

Ainsworth, M. D. S. (1989). Attachments beyond infancy. American Psychologist, 44, 709-716.

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Kendra Cherry

Kendra Cherry
Psychology Guide

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