Becoming DADS: Considering the Role of Cultural Context and Developmental Plasticity for Paternal Socioendocrinology.

Journal Name
Current Anthropology
Journal Volume
Journal Issue
Page Count
Year Published
Author (Individual)
Gettler, Lee T.
Resource Type
Journal Article
Resource Format
Men have the capacity to respond to the transition to fatherhood and nurturant investments in their partners and children with shifts in neuroendocrine function (such as decreased testosterone production). This capacity may be adaptive, reflecting fitness benefits accrued by some hominin males who responded to partnering and parenting with neuroendocrine shifts promoting cooperation and investment. These patterns are not uniform inter- or intraculturally, suggesting that cultural dimensions and norms that shape men’s developmental experiences as well as their social and economic roles in adulthood are potentially paramount in the expression of diverse biological responses to fatherhood. Here, I draw extensively on animal models and human studies demonstrating the effects of early-life parenting experiences on the function of neuroendocrine systems in adulthood. Based on my team’s research in Cebu, Philippines, and other anthropological studies, I propose a new model (dedication, attitude, duration, and salience [DADS]) that provides a framework for interpreting diverse human paternal biological profiles by integrating across multiple explanatory scales. Specifically, I use this model as an exemplar to highlight the utility of integrating evolutionary and phylogenetic perspectives with those focusing on the developmental niche, early-life influences on neuroendocrine system function (developmental plasticity and programming), and the broad influence of cultural processes and political economy. (Author abstract)

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