Implications for Adult Roles from Differential Styles of Mother-Infant Bonding: An Ethological Study

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Ethological observations of maternal and infant behaviors of nine vervet monkey pairs (Cercopithecus aethiops sabaeus) showed the effects of differential styles of early maternal responsiveness on later infant competence. Those infants receiving the least amount of maternal responsiveness and the most time-off the mother in the first 3 months of development were more socially competent at 6 months of age. The results are discussed within current ethological “attachment” theories. The detachment or separation process of mother-infant interaction is considered as important a factor during infant development as the primary maternal bond.

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