Read e-book online Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 33, Issue 1, February PDF

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By Paul Bloom & Barbara L. Finlay (Editors)

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Extra info for Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Volume 33, Issue 1, February 2010

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The human diet consists of a wide variety of foods, most of which require processing and specialized technology. In all traditional societies, resources and labor are pooled and transferred intergenerationally, but also bidirectionally (Kramer 2005b; Lee & Kramer 2002). These transfers flow downward from older to younger generations, but also upward from children to adults. Rarely does any individual of any age do all of the tasks necessary to grow, survive, and reproduce. This economic interdependence affects helping behaviors in two ways.

Most behaviors are irrational, although humans have the ability to consider things from a rational point of view. Human biology searches for universal behaviors and their variety. These behaviors have emerged over the course of evolution because they had an advantage for survival and reproduction. Human behaviors are influenced by emotions and shaped by the social and cultural environment in which we grow up. We learn from an early age what is expected from grandparents and their duties. This means that evolution affects human behavior in terms of both inner motivations and cultural learning.

Grandparental support may be most effective when it matches those needs (Cohen & Wills 1985). For example, grandparental childcare may help employed parents struggling against time scarcity, but it may not work as well if employed parents are emotionally challenged (Frone 2000). Furthermore, there may be circumstances in which grandparental support is a mixed blessing. Although grandparents may be a powerful resource capable of offsetting stress in younger generations, lifespan research shows that unasked-for support can be perceived as a suggestion of incompetence and thus a threat to the self (Smith & Goodnow 1999).

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