Grandparental investment as a function of relational uncertainty and emotional closeness with parents

Human Nature 16 (3):293-305 (2005)
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Several theoretical perspectives have generated research on grandparental investment, notably socialization and evolutionary psychological perspectives. Using data collected from more than 200 older adults (mean age 67 years), we test three hypotheses derived from socialization and evolutionary perspectives about grandparents’ relationships with and investment in grandchildren. Results indicate that (1) emotional closeness with both children and children-in-law is positively related to reports of emotional closeness with grandchildren; (2) maternal grandmothers invest more in grandchildren than do other grandparents; and (3) grandparents invest more in daughters’ children than in sons’ children. Discussion addresses limitations of self-report methodology in this context and situates the current findings within the body of research indicating the existence of psychological mechanisms designed to guide differential nepotism.



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