Allomaternal Investment and Relational Uncertainty among Ngandu Farmers of the Central African Republic.

Research paper by Courtney L CL Meehan

Indexed on: 01 Jun '08Published on: 01 Jun '08Published in: Human Nature


Several studies have suggested a matrilateral bias in allomaternal (non-maternal) infant and child caregiving. The bias has been associated with the allomother's certainty of genetic relatedness, where allomothers with high certainty of genetic relatedness will invest more in children because of potential fitness benefits. Using quantitative behavioral observations collected on Ngandu 8- to 12-month-old infants from the Central African Republic, I examine who is caring for infants and test whether certainty of genetic relatedness may influence investment by allomothers. Results indicate a matrilateral bias in caregiving by extended kin members, but this does not affect the total level of care infants receive when fathers and siblings are included in the analysis. These results replicate a previous study done among an adjacent foraging population and emphasize the importance of examining children's complete social environments when addressing caregiving and child development.