Emily, E. and Page, A. E. (2019) Alloparenting. In: Shackelford T., Weekes-Shackelford V. (eds) Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer, Cham.
Who helped you develop into the person you are today? Most of us may think about a parent or parents, but many of us would also recognize the important role of other people. Perhaps it’s a teacher, a grandparent, or a neighborhood friend. The fact that we are supported by many people in our childhood is, in fact, very unusual: In nonhuman mammals, support – or investments – for juveniles are typically and solely provided by the biological mother. Only 9–10% of mammals display parental care, where biological fathers are additionally involved in raising offspring, without the support of other helpers (Kleiman and Malcolm 1981). In humans, we see a notably different system of facultative fathering, where biological fathers may or may not provide investments into their children, combined with a range of additional caregivers beyond the biological parents. These additional caregivers, or alloparents, can include siblings, grandparents, and extended kin, as well as nonrelatives such as stepparents, friends, and neighbors.