Monthly Archives: April 2016

Cross-cultural study shows how industrialization drove the evolution of maternal care-taking norms

Kushnick G, Hanowell B, Kim J, Lanstieh B, Magnano V, Oláh K (2015) Experimental evidence for convergent evolution of maternal care heuristics in industrialized and small-scale societies. Royal Society Open Science, 2, 140518 (doi: 10.1098/rsos.140518).  PDF  Link


Mother and child in a Karo village, Indonesia

Parental investment theory predicts that mothers will vary their care-giving behavior in ways that maximize fitness. Meaning that maternal decision making should be a tradeoff between the survival of her current offspring and her ability to produce future offspring.

In my new paper, which was written in collaboration with a group of international scholars (the PIVP Project) and published today in the new open-access journal Royal Society Open Science, we found that maternal care heuristics differed markedly between industrialized and small-scale societies. The differences can be thought of as adaptive strategies that arose to deal with the very different care-taking environments found in these societies. This idea is supported by gradients in the order and magnitude of the society-by-society heuristics and various national-level measures, such as total fertility rate, infant mortality rate, expenditures on health, and oil consumption.

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