Work on this paper was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD15496) and by a NIMH Research Scientist Development Award to the first author (K02MH00486). The authors would like to thank the following individuals for their helpful feedback on an earlier draft of this manuscript, as well as five anonymous reviewers: Urie Bronfenbrenner, Robert Burgess, Jim Chisholm, E. Mark Cummings, Kathryn Hood, Kevin MacDonald, Nora Newcombe. Michael Rutter, Steve Suomi, Michelle Surbey, and Marsha Weinraub.
Childhood Experience, Interpersonal Development, and Reproductive Strategy: An Evolutionary Theory of Socialization
Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
Volume 62, Issue 4, pages 647–670, August 1991
How to Cite
Belsky, J., Steinberg, L. and Draper, P. (1991), Childhood Experience, Interpersonal Development, and Reproductive Strategy: An Evolutionary Theory of Socialization. Child Development, 62: 647–670. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.1991.tb01558.x
- Issue published online: 28 JUN 2008
- Article first published online: 28 JUN 2008
The concept of “reproductive strategy” drawn from the field of behavioral ecology is applied to the study of childhood experience and interpersonal development in order to develop an evolutionary theory of socialization. The theory is presented in terms of 2 divergent development pathways considered to promote reproductive success in the contexts in which they have arisen. One is characterized, in childhood, by a stressful rearing environment and the development of insecure attachments to parents and subsequent behavior problems; in adolescence by early pubertal development and precocious sexuality; and, in adulthood, by unstable pair bonds and limited investment in child rearing, whereas the other is characterized by the opposite. The relation between this theory and prevailing theories of socialization, specifically, attachment, social-learning, and discrete-emotions theory, is considered and research consistent with our evolutionary theory is reviewed. Finally, directions for future research are discussed.