Social and Personality Perspectives on Parenting in an Evolutionary Context

Jose C. Yong, Norman P. Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter evaluates the dominant social-personality theories of parenting. It highlights the limitations inherent in the literature, particularly the lack of integration between the domains of parenting and attachment as well as the inability to make claims about the specific causes and effects of parent–child dynamics. The chapter then explains how an evolutionary life history perspective allows for a better understanding of parenting and attachment patterns and overcomes these limitations by grounding parent–child dynamics in a functional context. An evolutionary perspective stresses that different parenting styles and attachment types represent facultative responses to environmental demands, thereby facilitating adaptive responses to anticipated interpersonal interactions in the interest of individual fitness. Ultimately, parenting and attachment behaviors reflect life strategies on a fast–slow continuum that aim to maximize ancestral reproductive success in response to environmental harshness and unpredictability.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Evolutionary Psychology and Parenting
EditorsViviana A. Weekes-Shackelford, Todd K. Shackelford
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190674687
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021
Externally publishedYes


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