Sloman & Taylor (2016) described the impact of child maltreatment on the attachment and social rank systems, with one aim being to demonstrate the value of evolutionary theory. There is a general lack of interest in the relevance of evolutionary theory to this population and a consequent lack of clarity about how Sloman and Taylor’s article could be described as evolutionary. The present article shows how evolutionary explanations contribute to an understanding of etiology of the negative consequences of child maltreatment by demonstrating the adaptive function of the mechanisms involved. It differentiates evolutionary explanations from proximate explanations and describes the role of psychobiological mechanisms in attachment and social rank systems, and the therapeutic relevance of these mechanisms.
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