The science of parental “instincts”

What does science tell us about maternal, or even paternal, instincts?

This National Geographic article speaks to esteemed anthropologist Sarah Blaffer Hrdy and other scientists about how the same hormone, oxytocin, triggers parental instincts not just in mums and dads, but in grandparents and other relatives.

“Humans as a species remain biologically driven to form bonds with infants placed in their care—no matter their gender or social status.”

But, this doesn’t mean that, in today’s societies, every person should feel the need or desire to have kids. “You get a lot of men and women who just don’t want kids. It’s just not on their radar,” anthropologist Lisa McAllister says. “You get a ton of men and women who never get ‘baby fever’ or this maternal instinct when they happen to be around a child. It’s just that the internal psychology for how we measure success has shifted in our society.”