Differential caregiving behaviors elicited by infant attractiveness : the role of adult affect
MetadataShow full item record
PsychologyWe examined the relationship between infant attractiveness and adult affect, focusing on the potential link between affect and differential treatment of attractive and unattractive infants in a two-phase study. In Phase 1, we investigated whether differing levels of infant facial attractiveness would elicit positive and negative affect from adults (N=87) using electromyography. Unattractive infant faces evoked significantly more corrugator supercilii and levator labii superioris movement (physiological correlates of negative affect) than attractive infant faces. In Phase 2, we measured caregiving behavior and explicit bias of the same adults toward two infant simulators, one attractive and one unattractive. Participants’ positive affect, as measured by the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, and explicit biases predicted how well they cared for the infant simulators, but their affect measured by the facial muscle movements in the EMG portion of the study did not. These results suggest that unattractive infants may be at risk for negative affective responses from adults, though the relationship between those responses and caregiving behavior remains elusive.