Long-term relationships of individuals, characterized by a high degree of proximity and high rates of friendly interactions, are termed affiliative or social “bonds.” The process by which such relationships are established and maintained is termed “social bonding.”
Evolutionarily, the oldest bond is probably that between mother and offspring, and emerged when postnatal maternal care became crucial for offspring survival. Mother-infant bonds are particularly important in species where offspring’s dependence on the mother is a prolonged and energetically costly process, as in some birds and especially in mammals. In the latter, bonds between the mother and infant emerge during the earliest stages of ontogenetic development to facilitate nursing, and often, as in humans, extend well beyond the lactation period to ensure offspring’s survival into reproductive age. In animals...
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