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Describe and evaluate evolutionary explanations of attachment. (12 marks)

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´╗┐Describe and evaluate evolutionary explanations of attachment. (12 marks) The evolutionary perspective assumes that attachment evolved because it improves the chances of survival. An attachment ensures that a young animal has a regular source of food and receives protection. Because it is more likely to survive, there is an increased chance that it will grow to pass on its genes to the next generation. This perspective considers humans to be complex animals so therefore the same evolutionary principles apply to humans. According to Lorenz, the young of precocial species have an instinct to recognise and follow a caregiver very soon after birth. This bonding helps them survive what is a very vulnerable time in life. ...read more.


The research of Lorenz and Harlow was supported by Bowlby, who applied their ideas to the human infant-caregiver relationship. Bowlby argued that infants have an instinct to form an attachment to one caregiver (this is called monotropy) and that the quality of this relationship is important for healthy psychological development. Care is encouraged by the infant through signalling behaviours, e.g. smiling and crying. Bowlby?s evolutionary perspective has been very influential and has stimulated a great deal of research. However, it has been questioned whether or not the findings of research into lower animals could or should be applied directly to humans. Humans are far more complex than other animals in their feelings and emotions. ...read more.


One weakness of the evolutionary perspective theory of attachment is that it is debatable whether or not the rules of behaviour which apply to simpler animals such as monkeys and geese apply to humans. Humans are highly developed intellectually and emotionally, making us much more complex. Another strength of the theory is that Schaffer and Emerson observed that strongly attached infants had mothers who responded quickly to their demands and who offered their child the most interaction. Infants who were weakly attached had mothers who failed to interact with them. Another weakness of the theory is that the evolutionary theory believes that there is a `critical period` in which an attachment must be formed or else it won?t occur. However, there is quite a lot of evidence that goes against this. ...read more.

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