Looking after them

Kevin Lewis

April 14, 2019

Do post-menopausal women provide more care to their kin?: Evidence of grandparental caregiving from two large-scale national surveys
Marlise Hofer et al.
Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming


Drawing on the logical principles of life-history theory, it may be hypothesized that — compared to pre-menopausal women — post-menopausal women will spend more time caring for grandchildren and other kin. This hypothesis was tested in two studies, on results obtained from two large datasets documenting altruistic behaviors of pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women in the United States (N = 7, 161) and Australia (N = 25, 066). Results from both studies revealed that (even when controlling statistically for age, health, financial resources, and other pertinent variables), post-menopausal women devoted more time to grandparental caregiving. This effect was specific to kin care: Menopause status was not as strongly related to a measure of non-kin-directed altruistic behavior (time spent volunteering). These results provide the first empirical support for a previously-untested behavioral implication of menopause.

Maternal input choices and child cognitive development: Testing for reverse causality
Zafar Nazarov
Applied Economics Letters, forthcoming


I assess whether the results of child achievement tests affect maternal employment and the child-care choices of mothers with prekindergarten children. To test this hypothesis, I use a quasi-structural approach to form approximations to the mother’s employment and child-care decision rules and jointly estimate them with the child cognitive development production function and wage equation. Using a sample of single mothers from the NLSY79, I find evidence that maternal employment and child-care decisions are sensitive to past achievement scores. In particular, a mother whose child has taken the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test before entering kindergarten and whose child’s standardized test score is above a certain threshold intends to use childcare more and work more part-time hours immediately after observing the child’s performance on the achievement test.

Abusive men are driven by paternal uncertainty
Rebecca Burch & Gordon Gallup
Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences, forthcoming


This study examined paternal assurance tactics and differential investment in children in a sample of 258 men in a court-mandated abuse treatment program. According to the paternal assurance model (Gallup & Burch, 2006), men would be expected to engage in a series of tactics to ensure their children are their own. First, men who suspect partner infidelity are predicted to engage in insemination prevention and counterinsemination strategies such as mate guarding and semen displacement. We found that sexual jealousy was cited more often than any other factor in the instigation and escalation of conflict. Sexual jealousy also triggered increases in mate guarding and sexual violence but not physical violence. When males were jealous, mate guarding behaviors nearly doubled, pressuring the partner to have sex “in a way she didn’t want” tripled, and forcing the partner to have sex more than quadrupled. According to the model, if men do not believe initial tactics are successful, they may escalate to pregnancy termination strategies. In this sample, violence toward the female partner shifted from sexual coercion to physical violence when the man knew she was pregnant. Finally, the model predicts that men use postpartum investment strategies to invest primarily in children likely to carry their genes, and if fear of cuckoldry remains, children may endure abuse or neglect. The presence of potentially unrelated children not only correlated with increased aggression against the partner but also physical punishment of those children. Levels of sexual jealousy and physical punishment of children were also correlated.

Understanding the Nature of Media Effects From Onscreen Exposure to Alcohol, Sex, and Their Combination
Amy Bleakley, Morgan Ellithorpe & Michael Hennessy
Journal of Adolescent Health, forthcoming

Methods: Adolescents aged 14–17 years from an opt-in Qualtrics panel (n = 338) were randomized into one of four conditions, which varied the presence of risk behaviors (i.e., combined alcohol and sex, sex only, alcohol only, and no risk) that were featured in a brief video clip from a popular television show. We tested the content effects on behavioral attitudes and norms for performing each of the behaviors.

Results: Analysis of variance analyses showed that exposure to combined alcohol and sex resulted in more positive attitudes toward engaging in combining alcohol and sex, drinking, and smoking. Exposure to the sex only, alcohol only, and no risk videos did not influence any attitudes or norms.

Preparation for fatherhood: A role for olfactory communication during human pregnancy?
Caroline Allen et al.
Physiology & Behavior, forthcoming


There is evidence across a range of bi-parental species that physiological changes may occur in partnered males prior to the birth of an infant. It has been hypothesised that these hormonal changes might facilitate care-giving behaviours, which could augment infant survival. The mechanism that induces these changes has not been identified, but evidence from several species suggests that odour may play a role. The current study investigated this in humans by recording testosterone and psychological measures related to infant interest and care in men (n = 91) both before and after exposure to odours from either pregnant women or non-pregnant control women. We found no evidence for effect of odour cues of pregnancy on psychological measures including self-reported sociosexual orientation and social dominance scores, ratings of adult faces, or testosterone levels. However, we found that brief exposure to post-partum odours significantly increased the reward value of infant faces. Our study is the first to show that the odour of peri-partum women may lead to upregulation of men's interest in infants.

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