Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

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

Alloparenting and Female Same-Sex Behavior

  • Barry X. KuhleEmail author
  • Sara BrezinskiEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_62-1



The alloparenting hypothesis posits that female sexual fluidity – “situation-dependent flexibility in women’s sexual responsiveness…that makes it possible for some women to experience desires for either men or women under certain circumstances, regardless of their overall sexual orientation” (Diamond 2008, p. 3) – was selected because it facilitated the acquisition of and bonding to an alloparent (a non-biological caregiver for one’s offspring).


As Darwin outlined in The Descent of Man (1871), reproduction is the engine of evolution. Sexual selection favors traits that increase an organism’s ability to reproduce; therefore, seemingly counterproductive behaviors such as same-sex sexual activity and romantic relationships pose an evolutionary puzzle. Although there have been several hypotheses put forward to attempt to explain same-sex sexual behavior in men [cite relevant Encyclopedia entries here],...


Heterosexual Woman Genital Arousal Paternal Investment Sexual Fluidity Sexual Responsiveness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Bardi, M., Shimizu, K., Fujita, S., Borgognini-Tarli, S., & Huffman, M. A. (2001). Social behavior and hormonal correlates during the perinatal period in Japanese macaques. Hormones and Behavior, 39, 239–246.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347–374.Google Scholar
  3. Bentley, G., & Mace, R. (2009). Substitute parents: Biological and social perspectives on alloparenting in human societies. NY: Berghahn Books.Google Scholar
  4. Brigman, B., & Knox, D. (1992). University students’ motivations to have intercourse. College Student Journal, 26, 406–408.Google Scholar
  5. Chandra, A., Mosher, W. D., & Copen, C. (2011). Sexual behavior, sexual attraction, and sexual identity in the United States: Data from the 2006–2008 National Survey of Family Growth. National Health Statistics Reports, 36, 1–36.Google Scholar
  6. Chivers, M. L. (2005). A brief review and discussion of sex differences in the specificity of sexual arousal. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 20, 377–390.Google Scholar
  7. Chivers, M. L. (2010). A brief update on the specificity of sexual arousal. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 25, 407–414.Google Scholar
  8. Chivers, M. L., & Bailey, J. M. (2005). A sex difference in features that elicit genital response. Biological Psychology, 70, 115–120.Google Scholar
  9. Chivers, M. L., Rieger, G., Latty, E., & Bailey, J. M. (2004). A sex difference in the specificity of sexual arousal. Psychological Science, 15, 736–744.Google Scholar
  10. Darwin, C. (1871). The descent of man; and selection in relation to sex. London: Murray.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. De Lathouwers, M., & Van Elsacker, L. (2004). Comparing maternal styles in bonobos (Pan paniscus) and chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). American Journal of Primatology, 64, 411–423.Google Scholar
  12. Diamond, L. M. (2006). The evolution of plasticity in female-female desire. Journal of Psychology and Human Sexuality, 16, 245–274. Google Scholar
  13. Diamond, L. M. (2007). A dynamical systems approach to female same-sex sexuality. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2, 142–161.Google Scholar
  14. Diamond, L. M. (2008). Sexual fluidity: Understanding women’s love and desire. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Furuichi, T. (1989). Social interactions and the life history of female Pan paniscus in Wamba, Zaire. International Journal of Primatology, 10, 173–197.Google Scholar
  16. Furuichi, T. (2011). Female contributions to the peaceful nature of bonobo society. Evolutionary Anthropology, 20, 131–142.Google Scholar
  17. Hazan, C., & Diamond, L. M. (2000). The place of attachment in human mating. Review of General Psychology, 4, 186–204.Google Scholar
  18. Hohmann, G., & Fruth, B. (2000). Use and function of genital contacts among female bonobos. Animal Behaviour, 60, 107–120.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Hrdy, S. B. (1999). Mother nature: A history of mothers, infants, and natural selection. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  20. Hrdy, S. B. (2007). Evolutionary context of human development: The cooperative breeding model. In C. A. Salmon & T. K. Shackelford (Eds.), Family relationships: An evolutionary perspective (pp. 39–68). NY: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hrdy, S. B. (2008). Mothers and others: The evolutionary origins of mutual understanding. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Jackson, J., & Kirkpatrick, L. A. (2007). The structure and measurement of human mating strategies: Toward a multidimensional model of sociosexuality. Evolution and Human Behavior, 28, 382–391.Google Scholar
  23. Kano, T. (1992). The last ape: Pygmy chimpanzee behavior and ecology. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kuhle, B. X. (2013). Born both ways: The alloparenting hypothesis for sexual fluidity in women [Web log post]. Retrieved 3 July 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/evolutionary-entertainment/201304/born-both-ways
  25. Kuhle, B. X., & Radtke, S. (2013). Born both ways: The alloparenting hypothesis for sexual fluidity in women. Evolutionary Psychology, 11, 304–323.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Leigh, B. C. (1989). Reasons for having and avoiding sex: Gender, sexual orientation, and relationship to sexual behavior. Journal of Sex Research, 26, 199–209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Meehan, L. C. (2009). Maternal time allocation in two cooperative childrearing societies. Human Nature, 20, 375–393.Google Scholar
  28. Meston, C. M., & Buss, D. M. (2009). Why women have sex. New York: Times Books.Google Scholar
  29. Parish, A. R. (1994). Sex and food control in the “uncommon chimpanzee”: How bonobo females overcome a phylogenetic legacy of male dominance. Ethology and Sociobiology, 15, 157–159.Google Scholar
  30. Parish, A. R. (1996). Female relationships in bonobos (Pan paniscus): Evidence for bonding, cooperation, and female dominance in a male-philopatric species. Human Nature, 7, 61–96.Google Scholar
  31. Peplau, L. A. (2001). Rethinking women’s sexual orientation: An interdisciplinary, relationship-focused approach. Personal Relationships, 8, 1–9.Google Scholar
  32. Peplau, L. A., & Garnets, L. D. (2000). A new paradigm for understanding women’s sexuality and sexual orientation. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 329–350.Google Scholar
  33. Radtke, S. (2012). An exploration of female same sex behavior in relation to allomothering and grooming in a group of captive bonobos (Pan paniscus). Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Animal Behavior Society, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 10–14 June 2012.Google Scholar
  34. Redmond, I. (2008). The primate family tree. The amazing diversity of our closest relatives. Buffalo, NY: Firefly.Google Scholar
  35. Roulin, A. (2002). Why do lactating females nurse alien offspring? A review of hypotheses and empirical evidence. Animal Behaviour, 63, 201–208.Google Scholar
  36. Simpson, J. A., & Gangestad, S. W. (1991). Individual differences in sociosexuality: Evidence for convergent and discriminant validity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 870–883.Google Scholar
  37. Williams, L., Gibson, S., McDaniel, M., Bazzel, J., Barnes, S., & Abee, C. (1994). Allomaternal interactions in the Bolivian squirrel monkey (Saimiri boliviensis boliviensis). American Journal of Primatology, 34, 145–156.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ScrantonScrantonUSA