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DOUBLE TAP TO ZOOM WITH PHONE OR TABLET 18 CHAPTER 1 WHAT ATTACHMENT MEANS FOR LATER DEVELOPMENT Attachment relationships are not only important for providing safety and security to young children during early life. These relationships also provide crucial foundations for physical health, as well as cognitive, social, and emo- tional development later in life. Exploration and Discovery Children use relationships with trusted adults to gauge the safety of their sur- roundings. Young children are very skilled at reading their caregivers’ behav- iors and emotions, and they use this emotional information to help assess the safety of the environment. One classic experiment that highlights the importance of the caregiver’s emotions in infants’ exploration is the “Visual Cliff ” experiment. In this classic experiment, infants are placed on a plexi- glass table with a high-contrast checkerboard pattern underneath. On one half of the table, the checkerboard pattern is directly under the plexiglass. On the other half, the checkerboard is draped four feet below the plexiglass, sim- ulating a drop-off, or “visual cliff.” However, because the plexiglass can hold the weight of the infant, the drop-off is merely simulated. Though babies are comfortable crawling on the part of the table with the checkerboard directly under the plexiglass, they tend to avoid crawling on the part of the table that simulates the drop off (Gibson and Walk 1960). However, when encour- aged by their caregiver through positive emotions (smiles, encouragement) to cross the table in spite of the drop-off, many infants attempt to make the crossing. Conversely, if caregivers express fear or concern, the child will more likely stay on the “safe” part of the table (Sorce et al. 1985). This type of inter- action is seen throughout experiments that stretch infants’ skills and com- fort levels. Caregivers’ expressions of emotions are crucial in helping infants assess threat and understand the safety of the surrounding environment. The ability to learn about threats and safety in the environment through interaction with caregivers builds a strong sense of trust between care­givers and their children. This trust furthers the development of a child’s confi- dence with exploring other unknown situations. These early experiences build a strong foundation for later learning and exploration in school and COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL