The Neurobiology of Social Bonds and Affiliation

Miranda M. Lim, Larry J. Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


There has been limited knowledge of the neurobiology of social attachment and the cognitive processes involved, despite the fact that social relationship is a human trait that is given importance across cultures. This chapter examines social bonding between adults, such as romantic attachment between lovers, using various animal models that all feature selective, long-lasting pair-bond formation and a clear onset of the formation of social bonds, and which allow identification and manipulation of factors that either prevent or facilitate bond formation in the laboratory. Discussions suggest that the neurobiology underlying pair bonding could involve the same pathways required by other forms of motivation, like those in behavioural paradigms of conditioned reinforcement. Social bonding is seen as enabling positive affect in children and socially acceptable adult behaviours.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Development of Social Engagement
Subtitle of host publicationNeurobiological Perspectives
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199847853
ISBN (Print)9780195168716
StatePublished - Mar 22 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive processes
  • Neurobiology
  • Pair-bond formation
  • Social attachment
  • Social bonding
  • Social relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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