Early stress, parental motivation, and reproductive decision-making: applications of life history theory to parental behavior

Tomás Cabeza de Baca, Bruce J Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

10 Scopus citations


This review focuses on the impact of parental behavior on child development, as interpreted from an evolutionary-developmental perspective. We employ psychosocial acceleration theory to reinterpret the effects of variation in parental investment and involvement on child development, arguing that these effects have been structured by natural selection to match the developing child to current and expected future environments. Over time, an individual's development, physiology, and behavior are organized in a coordinated manner (as instantiated in ‘life history strategies’) that facilitates survival and reproductive success under different conditions. We review evidence to suggest that parental behavior (1) is strategic and contingent on environmental opportunities and constraints and (2) influences child life history strategies across behavioral, cognitive, and physiological domains.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
JournalCurrent Opinion in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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