(215 kB) AC Hahn, C Fisher, LM DeBruine & BC Jones (2014). Individual differences in the motivational salience of infant facial cuteness. European Human Behaviour and Evolution Association in Bristol, UK. April 2014.

Many researchers have suggested that individuals who respond more positively to cute infant faces are those who would also be particularly willing to care for offspring. However, support for this proposal comes largely from studies in which women responded more positively to cute infant faces than did men. To explore the issue further, we investigated the relationship between (1) the extent to which nulliparous women expended more effort to view high-cuteness versions of infant faces than they did to view low-cuteness versions (i.e., the motivational salience of infant facial cuteness) and (2) these womenís responses on a questionnaire assessing their willingness to care for hypothetical offspring. Consistent with previous studies, the women in our study expended more effort to view high-cuteness versions of infant faces than they did to view low-cuteness versions. However, this effect of infant cuteness was more pronounced in women reporting greater willingness to care for hypothetical offspring. These data are consistent with the proposal that systematic variation in adultsí responses to infant facial cuteness may, at least partly, reflect individual differences in their willingness to engage in parental behaviors.

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