Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces: A Cognitive Explanation

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Abstract

Research on infant face perception has shown that infants' preferences for attractive faces exist well before socialization from parents, peers, and the media can affect these preferences. Four studies assessed a cognitive explanation for the development of attractiveness preferences: cognitive averaging and infant preferences for mathematically averaged faces, or prototypes. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrated that both adults and 6-month-old infants prefer prototypical, mathematically averaged faces. Studies 3 and 4 demonstrated that 6-month-olds can abstract the central tendency from a group of naturalistic faces. Taken together, the studies suggest that infants' preferences for attractive faces can be explained by general information-processing mechanisms.

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