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Family RelationshipsAn Evolutionary Perspective$
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Catherine A. Salmon and Todd K. Shackelford

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195320510

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195320510.001.0001

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Evolutionary Context of Human Development: The Cooperative Breeding Model

Evolutionary Context of Human Development: The Cooperative Breeding Model

(p.39) 3 Evolutionary Context of Human Development: The Cooperative Breeding Model
Family Relationships

Sarah Blaffer Hrdy

Oxford University Press

According to the Cooperative Breeding Hypothesis, allomaternal assistance was essential for child survival during the Pleistocene. This breeding system permitted hominid females to produce offspring without increasing inter-birth intervals, and allowed for movement into new habitats. Reliance on allomaternal assistance would make maternal commitment more dependent on the mother's perception of probable support from others than is the case in most other primates. One artifact of such investment would be newborns who needed to monitor and engage mothers, as well as older infants and juveniles who benefited from eliciting care and provisioning from a range of caretakers across the prolonged period of dependence characteristic of young in cooperative breeders. Developing in a social context where infants and children who are more skilled at reading the intentions of others and engaging their solicitude would be more likely to survive and prosper has obvious implications for the evolution of Theory of Mind.

Keywords:   allomaternal care, Theory of Mind, solicitude, cooperative breeders

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