Books  Evolutionary Biology  Human Evolution & Anthropology 

Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior

By: Peter Gray (Author), Kermyt Anderson (Author)

320 pages, 2 tables

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Apr 2012 | #203847 | ISBN-13: 9780674064188
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NHBS Price: £14.95 $18/€17 approx
Hardback | #203848 | ISBN-13: 9780674048690
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About this book

We've all heard that a father's involvement enriches the lives of children. But how much have we heard about how having a child affects a father's life? As Peter Gray and Kermyt Anderson reveal, fatherhood actually alters a man's sexuality, rewires his brain, and changes his hormonal profile. His very health may suffer – in the short run – and improve in the long. These are just a few aspects of the scientific side of fatherhood explored in Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior, which deciphers the findings of myriad studies and makes them accessible to the interested general reader

Since the mid-1990s Anderson and Gray, themselves fathers of young children, have been studying paternal behavior in places as diverse as Boston, Albuquerque, Cape Town, Kenya, and Jamaica. Their work combines the insights of evolutionary and comparative biology, cross-cultural analysis, and neural physiology to deepen and expand our understanding of fatherhood – from the intense involvement in childcare seen in male hunter-gatherers, to the prodigality of a Genghis Khan leaving millions of descendants, to the anonymous sperm donor in a fertility clinic. Looking at every kind of fatherhood – being a father in and out of marriage, fathering from a distance, stepfathering, and parenting by gay males – Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior presents a uniquely detailed picture of how being a parent fits with men's broader social and work lives, how fatherhood evolved, and how it differs across cultures and through time.

"Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior, provides a much needed perspective on men's parenting in general, as well as nuanced discussion of how this parenting varies across cultures, historical periods within cultures, and across individual men. The evolutionary perspective is critical, but equally important is the focus on fatherhood, as books and articles on fatherhood are dwarfed by a large and growing body of research on motherhood and alloparenting. In redressing this balance, Gray and Anderson do for fatherhood what [Sarah] Hrdy has done for motherhood [...] Essential reading for anyone interested in fatherhood and [...] an excellent starting point for researchers who want to pursue evolutionarily informed studies of fatherhood. Perhaps the most important quality of this work is that it should spark the interest of young evolutionary minded scholars, such that in coming decades fatherhood will be studied with the same care and depth that motherhood has been."

- Drew H. Bailey, Benjamin Winegard, and David C. Geary Evolutionary Psychology


"Gray, and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior is a timely publication that brings together a wide range of research on fathers, the expression of paternal care, and the impacts of paternal involvement. Indeed, for scholars interested in male reproductive ecology or parental investment, among other anthropological topics, Fatherhood would stand on the merits of its review of the existing scholarship on fatherhood. More notably, however, using an erudite, yet, conversational style, Gray and Anderson apply principles of evolutionary theory to this body of literature in a heretofore-missing compilation [...] Altogether Gray and Anderson present a host of interesting studies that illustrate the unique ways in which humans and other species experience fatherhood under the skin and, even so, elucidate the extent to which researchers have only scratched the surface in these exciting new domains. In total, Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood adds richly to the ways we think about infant care and human cooperation as being foremost to understanding aspects of human evolution [...] Gray and Anderson have made a significant contribution to the field of biological anthropology. Appealing to both scholars and nonscholars alike, this text represents a new "go-to" source for those wishing to learn about evolutionary, anthropological approaches to human and hominin fatherhood. For those of us who seek to teach the value of a truly integrative approach to these subjects, this book will undoubtedly prove to be a highly valuable commodity at both the graduate and undergraduate levels."

- Lee T. Gettler, American Journal of Human Biology


- Preface
- Introduction
- Our Founding Fathers
- A World of Diversity: Cross-Cultural Variation in Paternal Care
- Men and Marriage
- Fathers and Fertility
- Who's the Dad?
- Father Involvement, Father Absence, and Children's Outcomes
- The Makings of a Stepfather
- Having It All? Fatherhood, Male Social Relationships, and Work
- The Descent of Dad's Sexuality
- Babies on His Brain
- Health and the Human Father
- Rewriting the Manual
- Appendix
- References
- Acknowledgments
- Index

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Peter B. Gray is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Kermyt G. Anderson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.

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