BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

24 September 2014
DevonDevon

BBC Homepage
»BBC Local
Devon
Things to do
People & Places
Nature
History
Religion & Ethics
Arts and Culture
BBC Introducing
TV & Radio

Sites near Devon

Cornwall
Dorset
Somerset

Related BBC Sites

England
 

Contact Us


Babies prefer beautiful faces
New born baby
Babies show a clear preference for attractive faces.
Newborn babies challenge the view that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".

Researchers at Exeter University have found that infants just a few hours old show they prefer attractive faces.
BA Festival logo
LATEST
FESTIVAL NEWS
SEE ALSO
More on the BA Festival of Science

Art meets science in Exeter schools

What's on in East Devon

WEB LINKS
BA Festival of Science

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites.
FACTS

The BA Festival of Science 2004 will take place at the University of Exeter from 6 - 10 September 2004, and throughout the city from 4 - 11 September.

Ticket prices for individual events vary. Some events are free, but need a ticket.

From July 2004, tickets to all events will be available from Exeter Phoenix.

The BA is dedicated to helping make science and its applications accessible to all.

The BA aims to inspire people directly with science and technology and their implications.

Established in 1831, the BA organises major initiatives across the UK, including the annual BA Festival of Science, National Science Week, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges.

PRINT THIS PAGE
View print friendly version of this page..
get in contact
Just like adults, newborn babies prefer to look at an attractive face, according to new research carried out at the University of Exeter.

The study reveals that infants are born with inbuilt preferences which help them to make sense of their new environment.

Placed before photos of a fashion model and a plain-looking woman, a newborn will be drawn to the prettier face.

The finding undermines the theory that people develop an idea of attractiveness from the experience of mixing with different individuals.

Instead, it appears that everyone is born with a pre-programmed understanding of what makes a person attractive.

Newborns were shown two images side by side, one showing an attractive face and the other a less attractive one.

The researchers say the infants spent more time looking at the attractive face than the less attractive one.

"Attractiveness is not simply in the eye of the beholder. It's in the eye of the infant right from the moment of birth, and possibly before birth," said Dr Alan Slater, a psychologist at Exeter.

"You can show them pair after pair of faces that are matched for everything other than attractiveness.

Baby
Infants are born with inbuilt preferences.

"This leads to the conclusion that babies are born with a very detailed representation of the human face.

"It helps them to recognise familiar faces - particularly that of the mother - and it helps them in learning about the social world."

Newborns manage to do this despite their comparatively blurred vision.

"The mother's face at first seems blurred to the newborn, but it can discriminate the mother's face from that of female strangers as little as 15 hours from birth," Dr Slater explained.

On average, the babies spent 80% of the time looking at the attractive face in the pair.

Newborns used in the study averaged about two days old, but some were just a few hours old.

"Attractiveness is not simply in the eye of the beholder, it is in the brain of the newborn infant right from the moment of birth and possibly prior to birth," the University of Exeter researcher said.

In later life people still recognised conventionally attractive faces, even though they might choose a plain partner with whom they feel more suited.

Conventional musical choice

Another study carried out by Dr Slater's team suggested that babies were also born with an innate ear for music.

The researchers found that newborns seem to have certain musical preferences built in from birth.

They displayed a red stripe on the board in front of the newborn. When the newborns looked at the stripe, the researchers played a piece of music. When the newborns looked away, the music was stopped.

Their preferences (again measured by the attention they paid to the stimulus) were recorded by observers.

"If you play Vivaldi's Four Seasons forward, then they like it. But if you play Vivaldi backwards, they don't like it so much," said Dr Slater.

The results are being presented at the 2004 BA Festival of Science in Exeter.

Article first published: 7th September 2004
line
Top | Features Index | Home
Also in this section
Community Life
Community life
Local people share their experiences of life in Devon.



Local News
BBC News
Two arrested in Newton Abbot crash

Police force 'faces going bust'
"
Residents oppose fields housing plan

Links and Info
Links & information
Useful links for locals and visitors.
Webcams
Webcams
From stunning views to nature - take a webcam tour of Devon.
Contact us
BBC Devon
Broadcasting House
Seymour Road
Plymouth
PL3 5BD
(+44) 01752 229201
devon.online@bbc.co.uk



About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy