Efe Multiple Caretaking and Attachment
Gilda A. Morelli Edward Z. Tronick
A model for understanding the process of attachment formation during the infant's first year of life is developed using as way of illustration the early caregiving pattern of a group of forest gatherers and hunters, the Efe. The Efe engage in a system of extensive multiple caregiving beginning at birth and continuing for at least the first 4 months of the infant's life. It appears, however, that in the context of multiple care, one-year-olds form special relationships with their mothers. The model proposed to account for this process takes into consideration the strategies used by caregiver and infant to guide the allocation of material and psychological resources. Caregiver investment strategies are shaped by sociocultural and historical factors; infant resource acquisition strategies are initially under strong genetic control, but soon take more culturally appropriate forms. Both sets of strategies allow individuals to better deal with situational factors. The strategic model is compared to theory of attachment advanced by Bowlby, Ainsworth and others.
We conceptualize normal development as occurring through an interaction of mutually regulatory behavioral strategies flexibly deployed by children and caregivers in the service of achieving short- and long-term goals. For children, these strategies are referred to as child resource acquisition strategies and for caregivers as caregiver investment strategies. The resources acquired and invested are both material and psychological. Their form and content are guided by cultural values and beliefs, characteristics of the sociocultural environment, past experience, and evolved capacities and motivations (see also Lamb, Thompson, Gardner, & Charnov, 1985; Chisolm, 1983).
Caregiver-child strategies are aimed at accomplishing three universal goals: infant survival and eventual reproduction, economic self-sufficiency, and en-