Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development

pp 81-83

Ambivalent Attachment

  • Raquel PlotkaAffiliated withApplied Developmental Psychology, Fordham University, GSAS Email author 


Anxious attachment; Attachment classifications; Attachment patterns; Attachment styles; Insecure attachment; Insecure-resistant attachment; Resistant attachment; Strange situation


Ambivalent attachment is a form of insecure attachment characterized by inconsistent responses of the caregivers and by the child’s feelings of anxiety and preoccupation about the caregiver’s availability.


Ambivalent attachment is one of the attachment patterns categorized in the Strange Situation, and it is classified as C. This type of attachment is characterized by caregivers who respond to the infant’s needs in inconsistent ways, sometimes being neglectful and sometimes responsive. The infant develops an anxious and preoccupied pattern of attachment in which he or she is not sure when the caregiver will respond to his or her needs. As a coping mechanism, the infant develops two strategies, one of clinginess and proximity seeking, and one of avo ...

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