Human Nature

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 361–381

Attachment, mating, and parenting

An evolutionary interpretation

DOI: 10.1007/BF02913039

Cite this article as:
Belsky, J. Hum Nat (1997) 8: 361. doi:10.1007/BF02913039


A modern evolutionary perspective emphasizing life history theory and behavioral ecology is brought to bear on the three core patterns of attachment that are identified in studies of infants and young children in the Strange Situation and adults using the Adult Attachment Interview. Mating and parenting correlates of secure/autonomous, avoidant/dismissing, and resistant/preoccupied attachment patterns are reviewed, and the argument is advanced that security evolved to promote mutually beneficial interpersonal relations and high investment parenting; that avoidant/dismissing attachment evolved to promote opportunistic interpersonal relations and low-investment parenting; and that resistant/preoccupied attachment evolved to foster “helper-at-the-nest” behavior and indirect reproduction.

Key words

Attachment securityFacultative responsesMatingParentingReproductive strategy

Copyright information

© Springer 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Development and Family StudiesPenn State UniversityUniversity Park