Newborn babies prefer to look at attractive faces, says a UK researcher, suggesting that face recognition is hardwired at birth, rather than learned.


Alan Slater and his colleagues at the University of Exeter showed paired images of faces to babies as young a one day old and found that they spent more time fixated on the more attractive face.



“Attractiveness is not in the eye of the beholder, it’s innate to a newborn infant,” says Slater.



Developmental psychologists have known for years that babies have preferences for certain objects, such as high contrast images, and curvy, biological shapes. But where these preferences come from remained unknown.



Slater’s research, using extraordinarily young infants, supports the idea that babies are not mere blank slates, but instead come into the world with a fairly developed perception system.



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