Maternal grandmothers do go the extra mile: Factoring distance and lineage into differential contact with grandchildren (2007)

Author(s): Pollet T, Nelissen M, Nettle D

    Abstract: Several studies conducted from an evolutionary perspective have documented differential investment in grandchildren by lineage. The majority of these studies have used retrospective ratings by grandchildren, but only a fraction of these studies have examined actual grandparental behavior. Here we focus on the interaction between distance and lineage on face-to-face contact with a (random) grandchild in a large scale sample. Our main prediction is that maternal grandparents are significantly more willing to travel in order to see their grandchild. While controlling for initiative of contact, urbanization, sex and age of the grandchild, educational attainment, marital status and age we found a significant interaction between distance and grandparent type on frequency of contact with a grandchild. Maternal grandmothers were significantly more inclined than paternal grandfathers and grandmothers to maintain frequent face-to-face contact, as distance between grandparent and grandchild increased. The results are discussed with reference to evolutionary theories of grandparental investment.

      • Journal: Evolutionary Psychology
      • Volume: 5
      • Issue: 4
      • Pages: 832-843
      • Publisher: Evolutionary Psychology
      • Publication type: Article
      • Bibliographic status: Published

      Keywords: grandparental solicitude, paternity uncertainty, family relations, social interaction, distance, lineage


      Professor Daniel Nettle
      Professor of Behavioural Science