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Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior Hardcover – May 1 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (May 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048690
  • Product Dimensions: 24.3 x 15.7 x 2.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 590 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,543,423 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

This is a remarkable book, both for its clarity and for its depth of research and detail. What makes it unique is the authors' multicultural and evolutionary approach to the issue of fatherhood. Among the elite group of scholars who study evolutionary anthropology, I can't think of a pair more qualified to write this book than Gray and Anderson.
--Richard Bribiescas, Yale University

This book should be required reading for all fathers and potential fathers. Whether a man is contemplating starting a family down the road as a biological father or buying one ready-made off the shelf as a stepfather, this is the indispensable guidebook for trying to be good at fatherhood. Similarly, for social and behavioral scientists interested in families and parenting from a cross-cultural perspective, this will become the standard reference for years to come. No matter what perspective one brings to the table--this reviewer's happens to be evolutionary--there is plenty here to make one think. It is almost scary how much information Gray and Anderson pack in this book, let alone how easy it is to read.
--M. J. O'Brien (Choice 2010-10-01)

Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior, provides a much needed perspective on men's parenting in general, as well as nuanced discussion of how this parenting varies across cultures, historical periods within cultures, and across individual men. The evolutionary perspective is critical, but equally important is the focus on fatherhood, as books and articles on fatherhood are dwarfed by a large and growing body of research on motherhood and alloparenting. In redressing this balance, Gray and Anderson do for fatherhood what [Sarah] Hrdy has done for motherhood...Essential reading for anyone interested in fatherhood and...an excellent starting point for researchers who want to pursue evolutionarily informed studies of fatherhood. Perhaps the most important quality of this work is that it should spark the interest of young evolutionary minded scholars, such that in coming decades fatherhood will be studied with the same care and depth that motherhood has been.
--Drew H. Bailey, Benjamin Winegard, and David C. Geary (Evolutionary Psychology 2010-06-25)

Gray, and Anderson's Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior is a timely publication that brings together a wide range of research on fathers, the expression of paternal care, and the impacts of paternal involvement. Indeed, for scholars interested in male reproductive ecology or parental investment, among other anthropological topics, Fatherhood would stand on the merits of its review of the existing scholarship on fatherhood. More notably, however, using an erudite, yet, conversational style, Gray and Anderson apply principles of evolutionary theory to this body of literature in a heretofore-missing compilation...Altogether Gray and Anderson present a host of interesting studies that illustrate the unique ways in which humans and other species experience fatherhood under the skin and, even so, elucidate the extent to which researchers have only scratched the surface in these exciting new domains. In total, Gray and Anderson's Fatherhood adds richly to the ways we think about infant care and human cooperation as being foremost to understanding aspects of human evolution...Gray and Anderson have made a significant contribution to the field of biological anthropology. Appealing to both scholars and nonscholars alike, this text represents a new "go-to" source for those wishing to learn about evolutionary, anthropological approaches to human and hominin fatherhood. For those of us who seek to teach the value of a truly integrative approach to these subjects, this book will undoubtedly prove to be a highly valuable commodity at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.
--Lee T. Gettler (American Journal of Human Biology)

[Fatherhood] is helping fill the research gap about fathers. It describes, based on masses of scientific evidence, the so-called "Dad Effect." Or, how fatherhood changes men.
--Douglas Todd (Vancouver Sun 2011-06-18)

About the Author

Peter B. Gray is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Kermyt G. Anderson is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Oklahoma.

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By A. Volk #1 REVIEWER#1 HALL OF FAME on Aug. 4 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book claims that it aims itself towards a general audience, rather than towards an academic audience. They also claim that they aren't offering advice so much as an explanation for why fathers parent the way that they do. Generally speaking, I find that those two claims are hard to reconcile. In my experience, non-academic fathers generally want a book that offers them practical advice, while academics want lots of cutting-edge science written in scientific lingo. So in that regard, it's hard to evaluate this book.

As an academic exercise, it's pretty good. Gray and Anderson are both professors who study fatherhood from a biological/evolutionary perspective. The book covers a wide range of topics, from hormones, to paternity, to cross-cultural models of parenting. In general, I found that it was a pretty good introduction to the topic. I found that the book was at its best when focusing on each author's specialty (paternity-Anderson, hormones-Gray). Experts in the field will probably find a few bits of information in here that they didn't know before, as it's relatively comprehensive and current. That said, I found that there were some minor errors or discrepancies in the authors' data.

The writing in the book is not aimed at too high of an audience, but again, it's perhaps not practical enough to be of great use for the average reader. As a father, it was hard to take home specific suggestions based on the text without already knowing the theory. I would have liked to have seen the chapter on the effects of fathers on their children expanded, as this is really what matters most for fathers, researchers, and society in general. The mechanisms of fatherhood are important, but really, it's what fathers do for their children that matters most to most people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Are you ready to start a Ph.D. in the science of fatherhood? Jan. 8 2011
By Emre Sevinc - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I'm an expectant father and read this book hoping to learn more about what it means to be a father. This is definitely not one of the popular books which assumes the role of an experienced teacher / coach and tell you how to be a good father, what to care about, how to raise your child, how to support your wife etc. So if you are looking for friendly advice with occasional humor, lots of personal anecdotes with medical advice scattered in between you'd better look at other popular books (such as The Expectant Father: Facts, Tips, and Advice for Dads-to-Be (New Father Series)). However if you are interested in what exists (in contrast to what should) in the world of fatherhood, then this is probably the best resource as of now. The authors describe many aspects related to fatherhood and they provide lots of examples and data from various cultures as well as from our genetic relatives such as orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos and birds. You'll find many scientific explanations of what fathers in various cultures do, and why they do it, especially in terms of evolutionary mechanisms. I'm glad that the authors did not fail to strike a good balance between scientific writing and popular one; they did not assume that I was an expert in anthropology or fatherhood studies but nevertheless expected attention and careful reading from me (which I happily did for most of the chapters). Personally I found the last few chapters very informative in which they talk about how caring for his baby changes the brain of a father, affects the hormonal system and creates both benefits and risks for health. Therein lies some important insights for the curious reader / father, especially related to cross-cultural variations in short-term and long-term affects of fatherhood. I think this book will be an important reference in my library to which I'll return as I grow old as a father. (And it already started to help me understand the behaviors of some fathers that I observe in my social circle which I find to be another positive point for the book.)
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Great Book! April 20 2010
By Theodore S. Ransaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Fatherhood: Evolution and Human Paternal Behavior is one of the best books of its type that I have read so far. It is really impressive how much time the authors put into making it as easy to read as it is academic. I especially liked the fact that fathering elements of culture were interwoven throughout. I am considering adopting it as a class textbook for the Afro American Masculinity course I teach. This book is a must read for fathers, those who want to be fathers and anyone else who wants to know more about the untold story/journey of being a father.
Interesting, If Somewhat Incomplete, Survey Dec 9 2014
By Learning New Ways - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is an interesting summary of how fatherhood affects men around the globe and over time. It is fairly good as far as it goes, but it has some serious weaknesses I'll mention below.

The authors start the book with chapters that focus on the evolution to human beings with their longer development outside the womb than other primates, the comparable size of men and women (rather than the males being much bigger as in gorillas), and the loss of the "grasping reflect" that some primates, such as baby chimpanzees use to cling to mothers, leaving human infants needing to be carried around for a long time while their human brains grow - a job for, you guessed it, fathers.

Then they look at "men and marriage", "fathers and fertility, "who's the dad", "having it all" and so forth.

Some of the chapters are very good. "Babies on His Brain" was especially good. The authors also draw from Hewlett's interesting work that the original hunter-gatherer human cultures that existed for thousands of years involved men doing substantial child care (p. 37) and the period of agriculture (which also happens to be the period of the patriarchal religions) for the last 5000 years where some men did less child care is a relatively short time.

The parts of the book that are the weakest mostly have to do with the fact the book is entirely about the father. This is curious in that the father is making an investment in the child, regardless of whether he even ever sees the child after s/he is born, and success of the offspring, particularly success at reproducing another generation, would seem to be critical from an evolutionary standpoint. Also, the authors make reach some bizarre conclusions about women' behavior, which is salient because reproduction in humans requires two people and an interaction of any father with a woman. They might want to dialogue more with or even write a book like this with women colleagues to avoid this lacuna and distortion.

Although the authors have a chapter called "Father Involvement, Father Absence, and Children's Outcomes" they don't go into the detail of all the work that's been done in this area (Michael Lamb's anthologies are particularly well done) in the same way they do in other chapters and they give a curiously superficial assessment, at one point dismissing wholesale these studies as having "selection bias", without detailing what such "selection bias" might be.

In several chapters they discuss interaction with women, with regard to the choice to mate, the sexual behavior of men in late pregnancy and lactation, and the dealings between the parents in the many years it takes then to raise the child to adulthood. They are curiously aloof and deaf to issues of sexual coercion, i.e. women not having a choice in with whom, when or under what terms they mate because of systems that prevent this. They also are remarkably superficial in looking at the motivations of men who seek to go out and have sex with other women when the mother is in late pregnancy and lactation and thus create another baby. And, with regard to the later raising of the child, while they make some very clear assessments that men don't pay child support because they are seeking to give up on the first child(ren) and move on to a second child or set of children (pp. 131-140), and they call out that the attitudes of women that they are primary parents leads to some dysfunctional behavior by men, they again don't track how these things affect the success of the child from an evolutionary standpoint.

The discussions of the fact that paternity is now inexpensively provable (it will soon be available even in very poor parts of the world) tend to gloss over the implications of this for the success of the child (I think they are substantial).

While they put the lie to some evolutionary psychology fallacies by noting that Bill Gates, the richest man in the world, has only 3 children, it is interesting that the average fertility rate of the 30 richest people in the world is actually only about that number. It would only be about 2 if the Catholic ones were excluded (Carlos Slim, Bernard Arnault).

The final chapter, on "Rewriting the Manual", is honest in its confusion, but, again, it is curious that the authors have confusion when there are resources they could have used to deal with some of the issues.

In summary, the book is good but incomplete. The authors' conclusions in some parts of the book are very good and astute, in others they seem pretty off-base. The authors appear able currently only to identify as fathers, and write the book almost entirely about the effects on the father not on the child. While they make a number of personal statements about their own identification and experience as fathers, they do not in the book ever seem to recollect their own childhoods in relation their fathers. It makes the book read as though there sees to be some missing information here and a defense against dealing with that missing information. A psychologist might ask if there is repressed trauma, perhaps chronic emotional neglect or other issues creating a defense against identifying with the experience of the child. In any event, this deficit makes the book weaker than it could otherwise be. They are, of course, not alone in these issues. Indeed, perhaps the issues of "bad daddery" that cause such inability to recall childhood or identify with a child's experience of a father are widespread enough among people that such issues themselves merit discussion on an anthropological scale. I suspect the fact that paternity now is inexpensively provable has the potential to make a great many childhoods much better and reduce the risks of these traumas, which are so widespread they have become curiously "normalized".
Fatherhood considered Feb. 13 2014
By christopher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
An evolutionary anthropological approach to the subject of fatherhood. Being clearly written and structured it is easily accessible to the lay reader. On the basis of many referenced studies in the fields of anthropology, sociology along with certain primatological, biological and neuroscientific studies many interesting conclusions are cautiously drawn, the cross-cultural comparisons being especially interesting and useful . There is, however, in my view not much consideration given to the influence of the father on the mental and spiritual development of the younger child, for this one would seemingly have to consult other works. Aspects of the marriage relationship and the role of stepfathers are extensively discussed, matters of child abuse/incest less so (although concerning this, it is shown that stepfathers are, relative to biological fathers, a risk factor). The book ends with a discussion of recent Western cultural developments, leaving it to the reader to decide on the basis of what he has read how positive this all is.

For further discussion and a summary of the book's content per chapter, please see the book review in 'Evolutionary Psychology' from 2010.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Four Stars Aug. 28 2014
By Marie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
purchased as a gift; wish it was hard copy


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