Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Access to Alloparents

  • Emily EmmottEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_112-1



An alloparent is any individual who is not the biological parent, who helps to raise the child by providing direct or indirect investments. Alloparents may include kin members such as grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, as well as nonkin such as friends, neighbors, and professional caregivers.


Several prominent scientists studying human behavior from an evolutionary perspective have proposed that humans are cooperative breeders. Cooperative breeding is loosely defined as a breeding system where mothers require help from other individuals for successful childrearing (Hrdy 2005).

This proposal stems from the observation that human neonates are incredibly helpless compared to other primates, only able to carry out basic functions. Human prematurity at birth is coupled with a slow development and maturation period throughout childhood and adolescence. Consequently, children require...


Parental Investment Child Quality Maternal Investment Paternal Investment Alloparental Care 
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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Anthropology, University College LondonLondonUK