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Attachment, culture, and gene-culture co-evolution: expanding the evolutionary toolbox of attachment theory
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
Number of Authors: 12020 (English)In: Attachment & Human Development, ISSN 1461-6734, E-ISSN 1469-2988Article in journal (Refereed) Epub ahead of print
Abstract [en]

I argue that attachment relationships, and particularly secure ones, are important contexts for social learning and cultural transmission. Bowlby originally treated the attachment-behavioral system as serving only one evolutionary function: protection, via physical proximity. Yet the time is ripe to consider learning, especially social learning, as an additional functional consequence of attachment. Updated accordingly, attachment theory has the potential to serve as a much-needed developmental anchor for models of cultural evolution and gene-culture co-evolution. To support my arguments, I review progress in evolutionary science since Bowlby's lifetime, highlighting the growing recognition of ecological flexibility and the cultural embeddedness of animal behavior. I also review research pointing to a facilitating role of secure attachment relationships for social learning from caregivers among humans. For illustrational purposes, I show how one important aspect of human culture - religion - is culturally transmitted within attachment relationships, and of how the generalization of attachment-related working models biases the cultural transmission of religion from parents to offspring. I end the paper with a call for empirical research to test the role of attachment in cultural transmission beyond religion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2020.
Keywords [en]
Attachment, evolution, culture, social learning, internal working models
National Category
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-178628DOI: 10.1080/14616734.2019.1709086ISI: 000505140500001PubMedID: 31894723OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-178628DiVA, id: diva2:1396100
Available from: 2020-02-25 Created: 2020-02-25 Last updated: 2020-02-25

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