Heightened fearfulness in infants is not adaptive

Behavioral and Brain Sciences 46:e73 (2023)
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Abstract

Grossmann proposes the “fearful ape hypothesis,” suggesting that heightened fearfulness in early life is evolutionarily adaptive. We question this claim with evidence that (1) perceived fearfulness in children is associated with negative, not positive long-term outcomes; (2) caregivers are responsive to all affective behaviors, not just those perceived as fearful; and (3) caregiver responsiveness serves to reduce perceived fearfulness.

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