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. He claimed that there was a critical period during which this bonding (which he called `imprinting`) occurs and that animals that do not properly imprint were unlikely to survive very long.
The idea that early bonding experience is important is supported by Harlow. He removed infant monkeys from their mothers soon after birth and raised them with surrogate wire or cloth covered `mothers`. He found that this early experience had long-term consequences. For example, whilst their physical health was unaffected, they had problems with emotional development. As adults they had poor social and parenting skills. Harlow said that the monkeys had experienced maternal deprivation.
The research of Lorenz and Harlow was supported by Bowlby,…