Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford


  • Sebastian SchnettlerEmail author
  • Kai Willführ
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_2301-1


(Co)parenting of a partner’s child which is not one’s biological child.


Step-parenting takes on many different forms and may have different causes. Historically and across societies, there is variation in what constitutes the most common causes for stepfamily formation: Whereas in modern industrial societies increasing rates of separation and divorce along with re-partnering and multiple-partner fertility have been major drivers for the formation of stepfamilies (Steinbach 2010), historically stepfamilies were mostly formed after the death of one biological parent, often out of economic necessity (Hill and Kopp 2013, p. 33).

In both cases, what constitutes a stepfamily – from the perspective of a child – is that children share the household with one biological parent and his or her current partner who is not a biological parent. Possibly, and this is more characteristic for modern stepfamilies, the child has a second parental home where the other biological...
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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesCarl von Ossietzky University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany
  2. 2.Carl von Ossietzky University of OldenburgOldenburgGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kevin M. Kniffin
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityIthacaUSA