Causes and Consequences of Varying Care
Bowlby recognized that studying other primates could help identify the needs of human infants; his evolutionary perspective has had a wide impact on understanding of human development. Much more is now known about evolutionary processes and variation, within and between species. This chapter reviews aspects of evolutionary theory and primatology relevant to Bowlby’s theory of attachment. Beginning with primate phylogeny, ecological and social forces that contribute to the varieties of primate sociality are considered and some reasons canvassed that explain why primatologists do not all agree on the choice of words to describe the relationships between animals, including use of the term “attachment.” Variations and commonalities are identified and used to explore how development in human infants can be understood in terms of social relationships and maturational state at birth and weaning compared to other primates. Infant experience has long-term effects in primates other than humans. Some of that evidence is summarized and special attention is given to interactions between particular chimpanzee mothers and infants in an unusual setting, where trusting relationships between mothers and human researchers reveal variations in mothering style that appear to result from early life events, recent experience, and social context.
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