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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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How Attachment Gave Rise to Culture

How Attachment Gave Rise to Culture

(p.273) 11 How Attachment Gave Rise to Culture
The Cultural Nature of Attachment

James S. Chisholm

The MIT Press

This chapter reviews advances in evolutionary theory since Bowlby and proposes that our capacity for culture emerged with the evolution of human attachment by means of selection for increased mother-infant cooperation in the resolution of parent-offspring conflict. It outlines the evolutionary-developmental logic of attachment, parent-offspring conflict, and the view of culture as “extended embodied minds.” It describes how the embodied mind and its attachments might have been extended beyond the mammalian mother-infant dyad to include expanding circles of cooperative individuals and groups. It argues that because attachment came before and gave rise to culture, no culture could long exist that did not accommodate the attachment needs of its infants. On this view, all the myriad cultural contexts of attachment foster secure-enough attachment—except when they cannot. Theory and evidence show that when mothers and others are unable to buffer their children against environmental risk and uncertainty, insecure attachment can be (or once was) evolutionarily rational. It concludes that an attachment theory fully informed by twenty-first century evolutionary theory is fully consilient with normative emic perspectives on the nature of the child and appropriate child care, in both favorable and unfavorable environments.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, extended evolutionary synthesis, parent-offspring conflict, evolution of cooperation, shared intentions, embodied mind, extended mind

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