Attachment to Objects and Animals

On page 425 of our book, there is a picture of a little baby monkey wrapping its arms around a somewhat human looking object.  On the same page, there is a sentence that states that children from Western cultures who usually sleep alone and are alone much of the day develop “strong emotional ties” to things like blankeys or teddy bears. 

Although the book uses the picture and sentence to illustrate how attachment can form regardless of who feeds the infant, it got me thinking whether or not people could actually form attachments to familiar objects (like a teddy bear or blanket) or pets.  As I began to research this topic, a couple memories came to mind in addition to some articles I found that supported the fact that one could become emotionally attached to a pet or object.

Everyone has a certain “special” item.  Yes, you know what I’m talking about.  It’s your favorite blankey you always used to cuddle with, or the stuffed animal that was your most trusted companion in your infant adventures.  In my case, I had a blanket, and I can remember one time when I was especially distressed over something and just went into to my room and between my sobs asked my blanket (whose name is Buka) “Oh Buka, what do I do?”  As I recall, the blanket didn’t say anything back, but the “conversation” with my blanket made me feel a little better.   After reflecting upon this experience, I did some research and found an interesting article.  In it, they stated that test have shown that “70% of young children develop strong attachments to objects such as toys or blankets.”  After this statistic, they also described an experiment in which testers told children they could copy their “attachment object” (the special blanket, toy, etc).  The results of the experiment showed that only five of the 22 tested children prefferred the brand new, copied edition of their object.   Similarly, to this day I would still prefer my original Buka instead of a new one.  Through this test, we may not be able to see if objects can provide cognitive or physical attachment, but that they can definately provide emotional attachment.

Back in Junior High, I ran for a school office and was elected.  However, one of my friends ran and was not.  She told me years later that when she learned she didn’t win, she went home to her dog and just cried all day.  This is similarly related to my experience with my blankey.  Again, I did some research and found an experiment done on 305 undergraduate students in Philadelphia.  The results found were that attachments could form, but those with animal attachments had a higher chance of dissociation.  It further concludes that these people may be seeking “relation reparations.” 

I’m pretty sure you can’t go the zoo and be immediately attached to the elephants, nor do I think after reading a book you can become attached to it either (although the Twilight series might be an exception to girls).  But, the evidence is clear that attachment, although mostly in emotional ways, can come from objects or pets.

Mike Angerbauer

Sources:  Child Development, Berk.


~ by Mike Angerbauer on October 2, 2009.

3 Responses to “Attachment to Objects and Animals”

  1. I laughed when I read your post. Just yesterday I saw a story about a women who only has attachments to objects and actually “falls in love with them”. Apparently it’s a real disorder, or whatever you want to call it. Her main object or “husband” is the Eiffel Tower and recently had a wedding with it and got a tatoo of it on her chest. She is, however, in an open relationship with the Berlin Wall.

    Scott Montgomery

  2. I also laughed at your post; well, not at your post, but certainly WITH your post, about how Twilight is an exception to the rule for girls. But I think girls are falling for the character more so than the actual book. I wonder what research has been done with imaginary friends and/or boyfriends in this case, but I digress. I also have a very close blanket that my grandma gave me when I was younger. I didn’t realize how attached I was until this summer when I decided to go overseas on a 14 hour flight, which made me really really anxious and suddently I felt the need to take my blanket with me. Sadly, I couldn’t find it, but I went on the flight anyways.

    kathy phan

  3. I don’t thinks its attachment you are talking about. I think its more of a conceptual familiarity that may function in a personal process of self-soothing. There is no way an object can be responsive, though it can be consistent in the sense that its always there for you, or its always where you left it.

    stuart walker

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