StaffContactEvent CalendarThe EvoS FundBooksWebsitesTutorialStart Your Own
Fall 2007
Barbara EhrenreichJonathan HaidtHoward RachlinCarlo MaleyJeffrey CarpenterPeter TurchinJack SchultzScott Turner
Spring 2008
Anthony BiglanWilliam CreskoPatricia HawleyAndrew DeWoodyJoseph LeDouxJames NoonanBarbara FinlayGordon GallupRichard PouyatElizabeth Adkins-ReganJames MacKillop
Fall 2008
David Sloan WilsonBarbara OakleyBNP SymposiumRichard MichodMichael BellRandy OlsonWilliam RomeyChris ReiberSteven BrownBrian Boyd
Spring 2009
Dennis EmbryDavid HackerSteven PlatekSue MargulisSue Savage-RumbaughSteven NeubergHarvey WhitehouseThomas SeeleyGeorge LevineHelen Fisher
Video: "The Drive to Love and Who We Choose"
Fall 2009
Liza MoscoviceDiane M. Doran-SheehyKaren HollisPeter O. GrayChris KuzawaSteven SiegelRolf Quam
Rolf Quam 10/30/2009 EvoS Seminar Presentation
Bill JankowiakBaba BrinkmanPeter B. GrayMassimo Pigliucci
Massimo Pigliucci 12/4/2009 EvoS Seminar Presentation
Spring 2010
John GowdyDaniel LendeWilliam Harcourt-SmithTodd K. ShackelfordIain CouzinBruce HoodMelissa Emery ThompsonNancy EasterlinSteve NowickiJohn Marshall TownsendJoan Silk
Fall 2010
Josh BongardFred SmithDarryl de RuiterJay BelskyKari SegravesJulie SeamanLisa Karrer and David SimonsRick HarrisonRebecca SearTom LangenDaniel Kruger
Spring 2011
Steven C. HayesAndreas Duus PapeJessica LightMaryanne FisherGreg UrbanAndreas Koenig & Carola BorriesDaniel NettleDeane BowersCharles T. Snowdon
Fall 2011
David Sloan WilsonDavid C. LahtiRichard R. ShakerSergio AlmécijaHugo MercierLeslie C. AielloMark E. RitchieAdam LaatsLinda IvanyRalph M. GarrutoAdam Siepel
Spring 2012
John RieffelDr. Linda S. RayorDan EisenbergKevin L. PolkAndrew C. GallupKevin M. KniffinDavid DobbsNicole CameronJonathan HaidtDr. Joseph L. Graves, Jr.
Fall 2012
Barry X. KuhleCraig Eric MorrisCarin PerillouxDavid Sloan WilsonEric AlaniJesse BeringEli BridgeJaak Panksepp
Spring 2013
John TeehanRobert HolahanJenny Kao-KniffinShara BaileyHod LipsonDominic JohnsonMatthew HareCraig Eric MorrisBrooks MinerMichael RoseDavid Sloan Wilson
Fall 2013
Steven BrownNina FeffermanJohn Gowdy and Lisi KrallWarren Douglas AllmonTrenton HollidayJonathan GottschallArnab RoyDavid SchafferMichele GelfandJames SobelPatrick RoosEvoS Food Panel
Spring 2014
Daniel O’BrienBruce RobertsonRobert S. FeranecHeather FiumeraLuther H. MartinBjorn GrindeSarah RadtkeAleksey KolmogorovKathleen Sterling & Sébastien LacombeDebate! Evolutionary Psychology vs. Feminist CritiqueEducation Brown Bag
Fall 2014
Gad SaadT. Joel WadeNelson G. Hairston, Jr.Francis J. YammarinoDerek TurnerMatthew M. GervaisBernd BlosseyRolf QuamKelsey DancauseSharon Street
Spring 2015
Debra LiebermanMichael BerkmanDavid Sloan WilsonJason Munshi-SouthMa’ikwe Schaub LudwigJustin GarsonRéginald AugerDavid DaviesPatrica WrightCraig Eric MorrisMeredith E Coles
Fall 2015
Aaron J. Sams
Suggest a Speaker
Undergraduate Students
Undergraduate Student AssociationSUNY Broome Transfer Course ListUndergraduate RequirementsUndergraduate Courses
Graduate Students
Graduate Student OrganizationGraduate RequirementsGraduate Courses
EvoS from a DistanceNon-Matriculated Students
Becoming InvolvedEvoS as an Institute for Advanced StudiesLeslie HeywoodCo-hosting
Early Childhood Education WorkshopInsect SamplingEvoS Lifestyle Project"What's New in EvoS" Podcast
Alumni Corner
Andrew C. GallupLiza R. MoscoviceJustin R. GarciaJennifer Campbell-SmithMichael L MillerCraig Eric MorrisDaniel Weinstein

Peter B. Gray

Department of Anthropology
University of Nevada, Las Vegas

Hormones and Human Childcare: Evolutionary and Proximate Dimensions of a Cooperative Breeder

Friday, November 20, 2009
Lecture Hall 2, 4:00 PM


Unlike most mammals, humans breed in cooperative groups, obtaining care from fathers, grandmothers, older sisters, and others, in addition to mothers. Sarah Hrdy has refined this model of humans as cooperative breeders in her latest book, Mothers and Others. Here, we focus on the proximate hormonal mechanisms associated with human care of young children. To do that, we first touch on some basic conceptual foundations of behavioral endocrinology, highlight the importance of comparative research, and briefly survey the available human data on the subject. Hormones of pregnancy are thought to prime human maternal care, though direct evidence of this is surprisingly slim; instead, most research focuses on elevations in cortisol associated with attentive care to babies. Research on fathers indicates that male involvement in family life is commonly associated with lower testosterone, evidenced from samples of men such as the hunter-gatherer Hadza to men in Beijing and Boston. A few studies on fathers also implicate elevated prolactin and vasopressin levels. The lone study on grandmothers, conducted in Jamaica, found grandmothering associated with elevated vasopressin, but not oxytocin, prolactin, or cortisol levels. No data on the hormonal correlates of sibling or adoptive care are available, though three studies have implicated oxytocin in human-dog interactions, an interesting finding since dogs increasingly serve social functions as emotional surrogates of young children. We conclude with take home points, implications, and directions for future research in this young body of research.


Dr. Peter B. Gray is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After earning undergraduate degrees in Anthropology and Geography/Environmental Studies at UCLA, he received his Ph.D. in Biological Anthropology at Harvard. He spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow in Clinical Endocrinology, working with andrologist Dr. Shalender Bhasin. He joined the faculty at UNLV in 2005, where he teaches and engages in research on the evolution and endocrinology of human behavior. He has engaged in collaborative research investigating aspects of human hormones and family life in the U.S., Kenya, China, and, most recently, Jamaica. He has coedited (with Peter T. Ellison) Endocrinology of Social Relationships (2009: Harvard University Press), and coauthored (with Kermyt G. Anderson) Fathers: Evolution and Human Paternal Care (In press: Harvard University Press). Persuaded early in his academic career about the power of an evolutionary perspective, he ponders its application to most everything under the sun, including life on the Las Vegas Strip.


  1. Introduction to Endocrinology of Social Relationships, Edited by Peter T. Ellison and Peter B. Gray
  2. Chapter 10: Babies on His Brain from Fathers: Evolution and Human Paternal Care, Gray P.B. & Anderson K.G. In press.

Tags: ,

Fall 2009 Seminar Series Icon

Poster (PDF):