Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Alloparenting and Grandparenting

  • Katrina LippoltEmail author
  • Vania Rolon
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_327-1


A system of parenting where people other than the parents act in a parental role and help raise children that are not necessarily their own.


As the social animals we are, we have evolved in ways that promote cooperation because individuals who help each other are more likely to survive in threatening environments than those who do not cooperate. Additionally, because the end goal of evolution is not necessarily to survive but to reproduce and pass one’s genes on to future generations, we have evolved mechanisms that will increase the chances of survival of our offspring. One such mechanism involves having other members of the group aid in the rearing of a child, a term that is known as alloparenting. The following section describes how alloparenting works, and why people may willingly help raise a child that is not theirs.


According to Bentley and Mace (2009), alloparenting is when children are cared after by individuals who are not their...

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  1. Bentley, G. R., & Mace, R. (2009). Substitute parents: Biological and social perspective on alloparenting across human societies. New York: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  2. Hrdy, S. B. (2009). Mothers and others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Szinovácz, M. (1998). Handbook on grandparenthood. Westport: Greenwood Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at New PaltzNew PaltzUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Haley Dillon
    • 1
  1. 1.Dominican CollegeOrangeburgUSA