Facial diversity and infant preferences for attractive faces

Facial diversity and infant preferences for attractive faces,10.1037//0012-1649.27.1.79,Developmental Psychology,Judith H. Langlois,Jean M. Ritter,Lor

Facial diversity and infant preferences for attractive faces   (Citations: 78)
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Three studies examined infant preferences for attractive faces in four types of faces: White adult male and female faces, Black adult female faces, and infant faces. Infants viewed pairs of faces, previously rated for attractiveness by adults, in a visual preference paradigm. Significant prefer- ences were found for attractive faces across all facial types. The results confirm earlier reports of this phenomenon and extend those results by showing that infant preferences for attractive faces generalize across faces differing in race, gender, and age. Two potential explanations for these observed infant preferences are discussed. We recently reported several studies showing that young in- fants visually discriminate among adult female faces based on the adult-judged attractiveness of the faces and that infants ex- hibit both visual and behavioral preferences for attractive com- pared with unattractive female faces (Langlois et al., 1987; Langlois, Roggman, & Rieser-Danner, 1990). These results were surprising to many people because infants were not ex- pected to be able to make such subtle discriminations. In addi- tion, most researchers interested in the effects of physical attrac- tiveness have assumed that preferences for attractiveness are only gradually learned through a lengthy period of cultural transmission and through exposure to the standards of attrac- tiveness extant in the contemporary media and society. How- ever, these behaviors of young infants suggested that prefer- ences for attractiveness in faces are present much earlier than has been assumed. Other researchers have also found that infants look longer at and seem to prefer attractive compared with unattractive fe- male faces. Samuels and Ewy (1985) and Shapiro, Hazan, and Haith (1984) showed both adult male and adult female faces that were rated as high or low in attractiveness by adult judges to infants ranging from 3 to 6 months of age. The infants in these studies looked significantly longer at both the male and the female attractive faces compared with unattractive faces. Although some methodological limitations of these two studies prevent a clear-cut interpretation of their results, they at least suggest that infants can discriminate attractiveness in two dif- ferent types of faces, male and female. Given the challenge that these findings from infants pose to the widely accepted assumptions about the origins of prefer- ences for attractiveness (Langlois et al., 1987), it is important to investigate the generality of these preferences across different types of faces. Demonstrating infant preferences for attractive faces across different types of faces would extend the phenome- non to the class of faces in general and would serve as an impor- tant replication of the work with female faces. The purpose of the present studies was therefore to replicate our previous results with adult female faces and to determine if infant preferences for attractive faces extend beyond adult fe- male faces to other types of faces. Specifically, we used a visual preference paradigm to investigate infant preferences for attrac- tiveness in male and female adult White faces, in Black adult female faces, and in the faces of other young infants.
Journal: Developmental Psychology - DEVELOP PSYCHOL , vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 79-84, 1991
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