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Attachment – History, Models and Culture

2. Attachment and Modern Evolutionary Theory

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This lecture draws attention to Bowlby’s fascination with Darwin and the way in which evolutionary theory has influenced attachment theory. The focus returns to Mary Ainsworth’s attachment types, reconceptualising the positives and negatives of each type, in light of modern evolutionary theory. The lecture concludes on this point with the example of Viktor Frankl. In the second part of this lecture, Phillip Shaver’s idea of neuroplasticity is discussed in the context of environmental sensitivity. In his final section, Professor Holmes brings in the idea of epigenetics.


In this course, Professor Jeremy Holmes discusses attachment theory, starting with its history in lecture one. Lecture two elaborates on how attachment theory and modern evolutionary theory are linked. This lecture highlights key figures in its development, such as Viktor Frankl and Phillip Shaver. In lecture three, Professor Holmes outlines how attachment has been measured, including Mary Ainsworth’s ‘Strange Situation’ and Mary Main’s ‘Adult Attachment Interview’. Lecture four focuses on the role of caregiver sensitivity in attachment, reviewing the Grossman model of parental attachment roles. The fifth lecture brings in language, considering the role it plays in attachment through the lens of Grice’s principles of effective communication. The sixth and final lecture explores attachment theory across different cultures, addressing the field’s historical focus on WEIRD participants, and Margaret Mead’s challenge to John Bowlby’s founding theories.


Jeremy Holmes is a visiting professor of psychology at the University of Exeter. He is a consultant psychiatrist and a psychoanalytic psychotherapist who specialises in attachment theory. He has authored a number of books on attachment theory, which explore its history, as well as bringing it together with modern psychoanalytical theory.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Holmes, J. (2021, October 13). Attachment – History, Models and Culture - Attachment and Modern Evolutionary Theory [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Holmes, Jeremy. "Attachment – History, Models and Culture – Attachment and Modern Evolutionary Theory." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 13 Oct 2021,

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