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Seminar – Parenting our protégés: Mentorship and the parental care motivational system

Universiteit van Amsterdam

In contrast to many hierarchically stratified relationships in which the high status member tends to focus on their own goals and desires, mentoring dyads are typified by the high status member (the mentor) endeavoring to facilitate the goals of the low status member (the mentee). Across two pilot studies and three experiments (total N = 1643), we establish links between mentorship and the parental care motivational system (Schaller, 2018). Results demonstrate that serving as a mentor activates parenting motives which, in turn, drive costly investment in mentees. Moreover, we find evidence that mentees who exhibit neotenous facial features (i.e., kindchenschema; Lorenz, 1943) elicit greater investment from mentors than do mentees with more mature facial features. These and ancillary findings suggest that the motivational system that evolved to elicit investment in one’s own offspring can overgeneralize to non-kin adults, and promotes costly prosocial behavior at work.

Hybrid from REC M4.02


  • Charleen Case (University of Michigan)


Plantage Muidergracht 12,
1018 TV Amsterdam