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The Cultural Nature of AttachmentContextualizing Relationships and Development$
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Heidi Keller and Kim A. Bard

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036900

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036900.001.0001

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The Evolution of Primate Attachment

The Evolution of Primate Attachment

Beyond Bowlby’s Rhesus Macaques

Chapter:
(p.53) 3 The Evolution of Primate Attachment
Source:
The Cultural Nature of Attachment
Author(s):

Masako Myowa

David L. Butler

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262036900.003.0003

Bowlby’s theory of attachment has been hugely influential, yet his proposal and its subsequent support derives heavily from research involving rhesus macaques, the most extensively studied nonhuman primate in attachment research. Does his theory apply to other primates? A substantial amount of data concerning primate (including human) child care now challenges Bowlby’s original proposal, particularly as it relates to the notion of the mother being the sole continuous care-and-contact provider: caring can be shared by various individuals, the father can serve as the primary attachment figure, and infants can form multiple attachments. This chapter focuses on the phylogenetic history of attachment among primates, identifies features of attachment that are shared or which differ between humans and nonhuman primates, and considers the possible cognitive, social, and ecological factors associated with these similarities and/or differences in attachment among primates. Current evidence suggests that the human attachment system appears to be uniquely characterized by (a) social interactions based on combined visual, tactile, and auditory modalities, (b) the use of positive cognitive empathy, and (c) certain contextual elements typically contained in human social environments.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, child care, human and primate attachment, sensory modalities, physical contact, alloparenting, autapomorphies, empathy

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