In psychology, the term affectional bond is a type of attachment behavior one individual has for another individual, typically a mother for her child, in which the two partners tend to remain in proximity to one another. The term was coined and subsequently developed over the course of four decades, from the early 1940s to the late 1970s, by psychologist John Bowlby in his work on attachment theory. The core of the term ‘affectional bond’, according to Bowlby, is the attraction one individual has for another individual. The central features of the concept of affectional bonding can be traced to Bowlby’s 1958 paper: “the Nature of the Child’s Tie to his Mother.”
Bowlby referred to attachment bonds as a specific type of a larger class of bonds that he and developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth described as "affectional" bonds. Ainsworth (1989) established five criteria for affectional bonds between individuals, and a sixth criteria for attachment bonds:
- An affectional bond is persistent, not transitory.
- An affectional bond involves a particular person who is not interchangeable with anyone else.
- An affectional bond involves a relationship that is emotionally significant.
- The individual wishes to maintain proximity or contact with the person with whom he or she has an affectional tie.
- The individual feels sadness or distress at involuntary separation from the person.
A true attachment bond, however, has an additional criteria: the person seeks security and comfort in the relationship.
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- Bowlby, J. (1958). “The Nature of the Childs Tie to his Mother.” International Journal of Psychoanalysis 39: 350-373.