Anthropology, Department of


Date of this Version



Published in THE NEBRASKA ANTHROPOLOGIST, Volume 26 (2011). Published by the Anthropology Student Group, Department of Anthropology, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588. Copyright © 2011 University of Nebraska-Lincoln's AnthroGroup.


The role of male parental investment has recently been the subject of much research and debate in anthropology. By understanding the role of male parental care, its evolutionary development, function to the individual, and implications to the larger society, anthropologists can make better sense of observed cultural phenomena. This paper reviews the anthropological literature published on the different facets of male parental investment, and provide an overview of major trends in the research. The role of mating and parenting effort, cross-species comparisons of male parental care, and possible hormonal causations for male parental care are addressed As a proxy for investment male hunting is examined against two competing hypotheses used to elucidate that activity, the cooperative pair-bonding model and the signaling model. It is demonstrated that the assumptions found in the "show-off" hypothesis do not adequately explain hunting in terms of male parental investment. From this analysis, it is proposed that male parental investment is best explained in terms of a combination of the pairbonding model and a bargaining-model wherein males seek equilibrium between mating and parenting effort based on available environmental, constraints, both physical and social. Only by adjusting to these given circumstances can males effectively maximize their reproductive potential.