Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces: A Cognitive Explanation

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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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