Friday, June 12, 2009

Preferential Childcare Based on Appearance

New Scientist has an interesting article up this week on variations in the amount of time and resources fathers devote to their children. The study, done in Senegal, found that fathers devoted greater time and resources to children who looked and behaved more like them regardless of gender. Here’s the link:

The authors speculate that in the absence of proof of paternity, fathers look for similarities to themselves when they apportion scarce resources. They link this preferential treatment to the uncertainties of fatherhood.

It would be interesting to follow up this study with one that simultaneously looked at the frequency of non-paternity events in a culture. One would predict that in cultures where the rate of NPEs was high (as determined by DNA testing) the imbalance in preferential treatment based on appearance would be greater.