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Attachment refers to the bond between child and parent, usually established in infancy. Psychologist John Bowlby's ideas are the most influential in the attachment literature to date. Bowlby took an ethological perspective and argued that much of human behavior evolved because of its adaptive value.

Bowlby argued that attachment evolved because it is advantageous from an evolutionary standpoint. From this perspective, children form an attachment or a bond to parents because it enhances their chances for survival.

According to Bowlby, babies and parents are innately tuned into each other. Infants engage in what he called signaling behaviors. Signaling behaviors include crying, smiling, laughing, and clinging, among others. Signaling behaviors are designed to get a parent's attention and bring them into contact. Adults are naturally wired to respond to baby's signaling behaviors. From this perspective, many behaviors that babies show, such as stranger wariness or separation anxiety, are signaling behaviors that maintain the infant's proximity to the care giver and enhance his or her chances for survival.

Whether or not they take an evolutionary perspective, most psychologists will agree that there is a bond between parents and infants. Psychologist, Mary Ainsworth elaborated on Bowlby's ideas. She argued that all children develop an attachment to their parents, even children who are abused. Where children differ is in their security of attachment, or how confident they are that the care giver will be there to meet their needs. Infants tend to develop secure attachments when their caregivers are responsive, consistent, and warm.