Two- to three-month-old infants prefer moving face patterns to moving top-heavy patterns5

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Abstract

Newborn infants prefer face-like patterns over non-face-like patterns. This preference is explained by newborns' preference for a “top-heavy” configuration, that is, for geometric patterns that have more elements in the upper part than in the lower part of the configuration (Simion, Valenza, Macchi Cassia, Turati, & Umiltà, 2002). However, for 3-month-old infants, face preference cannot be explained only by a preference for “top-heaviness” because they prefer veridical face images over top-heavy images. The present study used geometric patterns to investigate whether 2- to 3-month-old infants' preference for face patterns exceeds their preference for top-heavy configurations. In Experiment 1, we revealed that the infants preferred the face pattern to the top-heavy pattern only when the internal elements of the patterns were presented with face-like movements. This facilitative effect of internal movement was observed again in Experiment 2, in which the patterns were presented with non-face-like movements. These results suggest that 2- to 3-month-olds' preference for geometric face patterns is greater than their preference for top-heavy patterns only when aided by the movement of internal elements.

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