Why Your Mom Keeps Calling

A new study tries to explain a mystery:

An international team of evolutionary psychologists have taken on an age-old question of twenty-somethings: Why do moms call so much?

Researchers sifted through about 2 billion phone calls and 498 million text messages, made in an unnamed European country, to figure it out. They analyzed the demographics of “best friends” — which, in this context, doesn’t mean the subject’s closest friend, but the contact they reached out to the most — and “second best friends,” who came in right after.

Their results, published in last week’s Scientific Reports, focused a lot on older women’s communication habits. They found that, up until their 40s, females’ “best-friend” is a male around the same age, presumably a partner or spouse. But when the women hit middle age, the researchers said, a younger woman, in her 20s, begins taking over that position as most-contacted. That, the researchers think, is near certainly a daughter.

“As they age, women’s attention shifts from their spouse to younger females, whom we assume, on the basis of the age difference, to be their daughters,” the researchers conclude. “This transition is relatively smooth and slow for women (perhaps taking about 15 years to reach its new asymptote at around age 60), and may reflect the gradual arrival of grandchildren.”

No similar effect, however, was found for males (sorry, sons). Middle-aged men were unlikely to change their communication habits over time but more likely to contact children – both male and female – at equal levels.

Don’t scoff, it’s science!

Now, go answer that phone, it’s probably your Mom.

H/T Sarah Kliff

Mother And Daughter On Phone image via Shutterstock

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Hey Norm says:

    No…but Jenos’ mom keeps calling me. Make her stop.

  2. John Peabody says:


  3. Anderson says:

    Your mom keeps calling me because she can’t get enough, sucka.

    (Srsly, post title should be “Why Your Mom Keeps Calling _You_.”)

  4. rodney dill says:

    @Hey Norm: Maybe if you moved out of her basement…..

  5. PogueMahone says:

    @Hey Norm:
    Oh, come on now… that was clever. Tasteless, but clever. đŸ™‚

  6. When I looked at the Quick Takes area, I read this as “Why Your Mom Keeps Calling Congressmen Barred from Afghanistan for Criticizing Government”

  7. Davebo says:

    @Hey Norm: Maybe if you moved out of her basement…


    A desperate cry for help?

    In the words of Forrest Gump. “Can’t it be a little bit of both?” đŸ˜‰

  8. KariQ says:

    I just wish my mother could call me.

    But maybe, just maybe, mothers keep calling because they like their children and want to talk to them.

  9. CCR says:

    This study is totally useless. Mother’s wanting to talk ALOT with their daughters is normal. The reason why they call them so much once they are >20 years old is because the daughters have LEFT THE HOUSE and they want to maintain the same level of communication as when they were teens and stayed home. The better question is: why would mothers rather call their younger daughters than their same age friends. One possibility is that their friends are also spending most of their time calling their out-of-the-house children.