Infant facial attractiveness is an important facilitator for adult-infant caregiving behaviour. Disruption to typical infant facial configurations can, however, attenuate their perceived attractiveness, as rated by adult observers. Previous research has either focused on how ratings are affected by observer characteristics (e.g., male/female), or alterations to infant faces, either experimentally, or naturalistically induced, such as the presence of a cleft lip. Little research has however been conducted on the effects of observer experience on adult ratings of infant facial attractiveness. Such effects could inform clinical work and policies aimed at promoting positive perception of facial malformations. The present study thus explored the effects of familiarisation on how typical and atypical infant facial configurations are evaluated by adults. We recruited two groups of female participants and compared their subjective attractiveness ratings of infant faces (24 typical and 24 cleft-affected), at baseline, and at one-week post-test. Between the two assessments, one group (n=41) underwent a week-long training phase, where they were familiarised with cleft lip/palate-related visual and informational stimuli, while the control group (n=44) received no training. Significantly higher ratings were provided for faces of typically developing versus cleft-affected infants by both groups of participants at baseline. At post-test, this pattern of ratings was repeated in participants belonging to the control group, while familiarised participants showed an increase, compared to baseline, in their ratings of cleft-affected faces and no difference between their evaluation of the latter and that of typically developing faces. These findings extend our understanding of the observer’s experience in the evaluation of infant faces, beyond the effects of the structural characteristics of the observed faces. Results also highlight familiarity as a potentially protective influence against the negative consequences of alterations to typical facial configurations, suggesting avenues for intervention in supporting adult caregivers in the context of neonatal facial malformations.

In the Mind of the Beholder: The Effects of Familiarisation on the Perception of Atypical Infant Facial Configurations

De Pascalis, Leonardo
2023

Abstract

Infant facial attractiveness is an important facilitator for adult-infant caregiving behaviour. Disruption to typical infant facial configurations can, however, attenuate their perceived attractiveness, as rated by adult observers. Previous research has either focused on how ratings are affected by observer characteristics (e.g., male/female), or alterations to infant faces, either experimentally, or naturalistically induced, such as the presence of a cleft lip. Little research has however been conducted on the effects of observer experience on adult ratings of infant facial attractiveness. Such effects could inform clinical work and policies aimed at promoting positive perception of facial malformations. The present study thus explored the effects of familiarisation on how typical and atypical infant facial configurations are evaluated by adults. We recruited two groups of female participants and compared their subjective attractiveness ratings of infant faces (24 typical and 24 cleft-affected), at baseline, and at one-week post-test. Between the two assessments, one group (n=41) underwent a week-long training phase, where they were familiarised with cleft lip/palate-related visual and informational stimuli, while the control group (n=44) received no training. Significantly higher ratings were provided for faces of typically developing versus cleft-affected infants by both groups of participants at baseline. At post-test, this pattern of ratings was repeated in participants belonging to the control group, while familiarised participants showed an increase, compared to baseline, in their ratings of cleft-affected faces and no difference between their evaluation of the latter and that of typically developing faces. These findings extend our understanding of the observer’s experience in the evaluation of infant faces, beyond the effects of the structural characteristics of the observed faces. Results also highlight familiarity as a potentially protective influence against the negative consequences of alterations to typical facial configurations, suggesting avenues for intervention in supporting adult caregivers in the context of neonatal facial malformations.
2023
Hunt, Benjamin; Rayson, Holly; Bannard, Colin; De Pascalis, Leonardo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11585/934575
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