Differential Investment Behavior between Grandparents and Grandchildren: The Role of Paternity Uncertainty

David I Bishop, Brian C Meyer, Tiffany M Schmidt, Benjamin R Gray

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Kin selection theory predicts that grandparents will differentially invest in their grandchildren as a function of paternity certainty. This study explored the hypothesis of "discriminative grandparental solicitude" (Euler and Weitzel, 1996; Smith, 1988) in a sample of college students. Students with four living grandparents were asked to indicate the frequency of various behaviors received from or directed to each grandparent. A significant linear trend on a majority of the measures supported this hypothesis. Reported contact and closeness were highest with the maternal grandmother (most genetically certain) and lowest with the paternal grandfather (least genetically certain); maternal grandfathers and paternal grandmothers were intermediate. The "preferential investment hypothesis" (Laham, Gonsalkorale, and von Hippel, 2005) predicts that the investment behavior of the maternal grandfather and the paternal grandmother should differ only when there are cousins through the father's sisters. Contrary to the predictions of this hypothesis, grandchildren did not rate the maternal grandfather consistently higher on any of the indices when more certain investment outlets were available to the paternal grandmother.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)66-77
JournalEvolutionary Psychology
StatePublished - 2009


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