As noted above, Hewlett (1987) addresses social and cultural conditions and processes that influence parents' investment in their children. Indeed, a substantial body of research proposes evolutionary and biological explanations for variations in maternal and paternal parenting (Anderson, Kaplan, & Lancaster, 2001; Fox & Bruce, 2001; Gelles & Lancaster, 1987; Hewlett, 1992). In such evolutionary perspectives:
Individuals face trade-offs between investing in themselves (their own human capital, physical growth or immune system, etc.), in mating effort (initiating and/or maintaining a relationship with a sexual partner), or in parental effort (investments in existing offspring)... [The evolutionary perspective] emphasizes two reasons for parental investment in offspring. First, parents invest in genetic offspring because doing so increases their own genetic fitness, i.e., the number of copies of their genes present in future generations. Secondly, an individual may invest in an offspring because the investment influences that person's relationship with the offspring's other parent. (Anderson et al., 2001, p.6)
For example, Hagen, Hames, Craig, Lauer, & Price (2001) found that when Yanomamo parents were forced to allocate food carefully to their children during a period of poor garden productivity, they invested in younger children more than in older ones. Moreover, boys whose fathers were significantly invested in them were better nourished than were girls, whereas girls who had large patrilineages were better nourished than were girls from smaller patrilineages. In Yanomamo society, patrilineage size reflects the amount of local political power held by families, thus reflecting how political arrangements influence fathers' and mothers' investment in their offspring.
Paternity Certainty. Fathers' certainty about their paternity has also been found to influence investment in their offspring (Buss, Larsen, Westen, & Semmelroth, 1992;
Fox & Bruce, 2001; Wilson & Daly, 1992). Indeed, in a quotation (Byrnes, 1988) widely attributed to Aristotle some 2400 years ago, the philosopher spoke of the importance of paternity certainty: "This is the reason why mothers are more devoted to their children than fathers: it is that they suffer more in giving them birth and are more certain that they are their own." In fact, Fox and Bruce (2001) found that fathers' commitment to offspring varied due to fathers' paternity certainty and to fathers' willingness to invest in children who will more likely meet fathers' needs (e.g., mating success, finances, time, and energy) and disinvest in those children who are unlikely to meet fathers' needs.
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