For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Showoffs or Providers? The Parenting Effort of Hadza Men"

by Marlowe, Frank (1999)


Paternal care plays an important role in many scenarios of human evolution. Lately, however, this “Man the Provisioner” view has been challenged. The showoff hypothesis, for example, proposes that men hunt not to provision children but to gain extra mating opportunities, and some have suggested that male care among mammals is always a form of mating, rather than parenting, effort. This study, based on observation in a hunting and gathering society, the Hadza of Tanzania, tests whether men provide care as parenting effort. If male care were mating effort only, stepchildren should receive no less care than biological children. My data, however, reveal that stepchildren do receive less care. This suggests that care is provided, at least in part, as parenting effort. Although lower direct care implies stepfathers are less motivated to care for stepchildren, resource acquisition data raise the question of whether stepfathers are less motivated, or simply less skilled.


Parenting Effort, Mating Effort, Stepfather, Paternal Care, Showoff Hypothesis, Hunter-Gatherers



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