Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Secure Attachment

  • Tommie ForslundEmail author
  • Pehr Granqvist
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_1963-1


Secure attachment denotes a flexible and balanced (“optimal”) organization of attachment behavior in relation to the caregiver, which is observable in these children’s ability to use their caregiver as a secure base from which to explore the environment freely when there are no signs of danger, and as a safe haven to turn to for comfort and protection when distressed. Secure attachment is reliably predicted by having a consistently available caregiver who is responding sensitively to the child’s signals, supporting the child’s exploration and providing comfort and protection when the child is distressed.


John Bowlby, a British psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist (see “John Bowlby: Pioneer of Attachment Theory”), was unsatisfied with the explanations of attachment available at the time, which deemed children’s attachments to their caregivers a secondary result of other mechanisms, such as children’s drives and/or feeding (see “Psychodynamic Foundations to...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ainsworth, M. D. S., Blehar, M. C., Waters, E., & Wall, S. (1978). Patterns of attachment: A psychological study of the strange situation. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  2. Belsky, J., & Rovine, M. (1987). Temperament and attachment security in the strange situation: An empirical rapprochement. Child Development, 58, 787–795.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Bowlby, J. (1982). Attachment and loss (entire work). London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
  4. De Wolff, M. S., & Ijzendoorn, M. H. (1997). Sensitivity and attachment: A meta-analysis on parental antecedents of infant attachment. Child Development, 68(4), 571–591.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Fonagy, P., Gergely, G., & Target, M. (2008). Psychoanalytical constructs and attachment theory and research. In J. Cassidy & P. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment: Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 783–810). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  6. Main, M., & Solomon, J. (1990). Procedures for identifying infants as disorganized/disoriented during the Ainsworth Strange Situation. In M. T. Greenberg, D. Cicchetti, & E. M. Cummings (Eds.), Attachment in the preschool years: Theory, research, and intervention (pp. 121–160). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  7. Robertson, J., & Bowlby, J. (1952). Responses of young children to separation from their mothers. In J. Bowlby (Ed.), Attachment and loss: Vol. 1, attachment. London: Pimlico.Google Scholar
  8. van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Sagi, A. (1999). Cross-cultural patterns of attachment; Universal and contextual dimensions. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment. Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 713–734). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  9. Vaughn, B. E., Bost, K. K., & van IJzendoorn, M. H. (2008). Attachment and temperament: Additive and interactive influences on behavior, affect, and cognition during infancy and childhood. In J. Cassidy & P. R. Shaver (Eds.), Handbook of attachment. Theory, research and clinical applications (pp. 713–734). New York: Guilford Publications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Uppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  2. 2.Stockholm UniversityStockholmSweden