Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

pp 1-4

Date: Latest Version

Adoption Preferences


Adaptation; Alloparenting; Facial cues; Family


What child traits influence parents’ desire to adopt?


Adoption is a complex behavior that can take many forms and offer many functions. There are numerous factors that influence an adoption, including cultural norms, parent’s traits and resources, and the social and legal parameters surrounding adoption. One important potential influence on parents’ decision to adopt is information about the children themselves. In particular, cues of resemblance/kinship, age, and child attributes can all influence the desire to adopt a child. From an evolutionary perspective, each of these traits can influence the costs and potential outcomes of an adoption, making them highly relevant to adoption decisions.


Evolutionary theory suggests that parents should invest in related children so long as the cost to themselves (i.e., their own genes) is offset by the benefit to the shared genes in the related children (T ...

This is an excerpt from the content