Altruistic Maternal Care Research Paper by Drachen

Altruistic Maternal Care
A look at maternal altruism from an evolutionary biological standpoint.
# 117210 | 2,078 words | 1 source | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Nov 22, 2009 in Anthropology (Scientific / Medical) , Women Studies (Culture)

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This paper attempts to define maternal altruism and in particular, the role of the grandmother. After a female primate loses the biological ability to reproduce, she takes on the self-sacrificing role of "grandmother," bringing food, protection, and acting in all of the other maternal roles to bolster the chances of her kin's survival, without the direct connection of childbirth. The paper discusses how mothers need to undergo biological processes as well as environmental protection in order to become that ideal mother and how the process of becoming a mother, is not all nature or all nurture. The paper concludes that grandmothers are the stand-ins, giving care to mothers and children, and acting with maternal altruism until the genetic "inspiration" activates within the mother herself.

From the Paper:

"There are still cultures where age-related euthanasia is practiced, and the infertile females need to combat this danger in primate and human cultures alike. In the Ache culture, there are "societally sanctioned specialist[s] in eliminating old women deemed no longer useful" (282). In order to oppose this social practice of dolling out death among elderly females, Hrdy explains that they must pass three obstacles, which would allow them to flourish in their society: "First, there must be donative intent toward kin. Next, there must be something beneficial an old female can do for kin, like protecting or provisioning them. Finally, the cost of having an old female around must be offset" (278). Data gathered regarding the subject of benefits of grandmothers among their kin have yielded mixed results for a wide array of species. "

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Hrdy, Sarah Blaffer. Mother Nature: Maternal Instincts and How They Shape the Human Species. New York: Random House, Inc, 1999.

Cite this Research Paper:

APA Format

Altruistic Maternal Care (2009, November 22) Retrieved July 12, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Altruistic Maternal Care" 22 November 2009. Web. 12 July. 2020. <>