Evaluating the impact of cultural models and biomarkers of fatherhood on childhood well-being among central African foragers and farmers

P7152021 Adam Dbs Creditsll

Much of what is known about how family life influences child health and development comes from a narrow slice of human experience in “Western” societies. To help fill these gaps, we conduct ongoing research in a remote part of northern Republic of the Congo among two, neighboring small-scale societies: the BaYaka foragers and Bondongo fisher-farmers. In this setting, energetic and disease stress is common. Thus, to understand children’s health, we collect height, weight, and body composition measures, as well as biomarkers of psychosocial stress and immune function. We also collect biomarkers of stress from parents and also measure key hormones (e.g. testosterone and oxytocin) related to family function and health. We use ethnographic, ranking, and behavioral observation techniques to complement and contextualize these biological and health outcomes.

Research Focus

  • Maternal/Child and Community Health

    At the EIGH, our researchers explore multifaceted health issues pertaining to women, pregnancy, breastfeeding, reproduction, and infant and child well-being. Our focus to decrease maternal and infant mortality rates supports a global priority among health practitioners and researchers. Additionally, community-based research on the local and global levels promotes a team effort to protect and improve the health of population groups worldwide. 

Who’s Involved

EIGH Faculty


  • Cambridge University
  • Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
  • Institut National de Recherche en Sciences Exactes et Naturelles
  • Universitié Marien Ngouabi

Additional Information



Boyette, A., Lew-Levy, S., Sarma, M., Gettler, L. 2019. Testosterone, Fathers as Providers and Caregivers, and Child Health: Evidence from Fisher-Farmers in the Republic of the Congo. 


Boyette, A., Lew-Levy, S., & Gettler, L. 2018. Dimensions of fatherhood in a Congo Basin Village: A multi-method analysis of intra-cultural variation in men’s parenting and its relevance for child health.


Boyette, A., & Gettler, L. The Forest of Fatherhood


Boyette, A. Who are the world's best dads?