Breaking News
May 26, 2018 - Most concussion patients do not receive follow-up care after hospital discharge, says study
May 26, 2018 - Lifetime risks of developing Alzheimer’s dementia vary by age, gender
May 26, 2018 - Researchers find novel ways to improve participation in clinical research
May 26, 2018 - Researchers develop methods for measuring free-base nicotine levels in e-cigarettes
May 26, 2018 - AHA: Preterm Birth Could Warn of Mom’s Future Heart Risks
May 26, 2018 - Some calories more harmful than others
May 26, 2018 - Study links cell size with commitment to division
May 26, 2018 - Researchers develop new, rapid blood test to detect liver damage
May 26, 2018 - Researchers discover cascade of immune processes linked to poor outcomes in aggressive breast cancer
May 26, 2018 - New research will use mathematics to solve mysteries in cell biology
May 26, 2018 - Mice remain slim on burger diet
May 26, 2018 - BMC receives $13.5 million award to test methods for delivering childhood anxiety treatment
May 26, 2018 - ‘Right to Try Act’ will not benefit terminally-ill patients
May 26, 2018 - Study reveals novel statistical algorithm to identify potential disease genes
May 26, 2018 - Two genes play vital roles in malignant brain cancer
May 26, 2018 - Study explores link between groundwater lithium and diagnoses of bipolar disorder, dementia
May 26, 2018 - Researchers reveal stimulatory effects of myelin on young neural cells
May 26, 2018 - Small part of cellular protein that helps form long-term memories also drives neurodegeneration
May 26, 2018 - Four-legged friends can have heart issues, too
May 26, 2018 - Scientists create small, self-contained spaces inside mammalian cells
May 26, 2018 - Better Social Support Network Protects Black Men Against HIV
May 26, 2018 - National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
May 26, 2018 - Burnout, depression can affect ophthalmology residents, study finds
May 26, 2018 - Latinos and African Americans more likely to experience serious depression than Whites
May 26, 2018 - Data from past epidemic could help improve response to future Ebola outbreaks
May 26, 2018 - Researchers provide insight into how the memory molecule limits brain plasticity
May 26, 2018 - OSU biologist describes ‘restoration ecology’ approach toward patient health
May 26, 2018 - New approach to study brown fat could aid in finding treatments for obesity
May 26, 2018 - Could More Fish in the Diet Boost Sex Lives and Fertility?
May 26, 2018 - NTU Singapore and SERI invent new scope to diagnose glaucoma
May 26, 2018 - Cancer cells co-opt pain-sensing ‘neural channel’ to increase tolerance against oxidative stress
May 26, 2018 - Study uncovers why pesticide exposure increases Parkinson’s disease risk in some people
May 26, 2018 - Study finds link between lead exposure and fertility rates
May 26, 2018 - Delivery of standardized diabetes care could help achieve equitable health outcomes for all patients
May 26, 2018 - FDA authorizes marketing of OsteoDetect software for detecting wrist fractures
May 26, 2018 - Children and adolescents growing up in extreme societal conditions more likely to resort to violence
May 26, 2018 - New study puts forth most comprehensive tree of life for malaria parasites
May 26, 2018 - UVA researchers establish new guidelines for explorers of the submicroscopic world inside us
May 26, 2018 - Princeton Instruments and C-SOPS announce collaboration on innovative pharmaceutical technology
May 26, 2018 - New research shows why babies need to move in the womb
May 26, 2018 - UK steps forward to tackle global antimicrobial resistance
May 26, 2018 - CRISPR-Cas9-based strategy allows researchers to precisely alter hundreds of different genes
May 26, 2018 - Novoheart announces next generation of ‘Human heart-in-a-jar’ technology for advanced drug discovery
May 26, 2018 - UT Southwestern-led researchers find new way to determine prognosis of invasive kidney cancer
May 26, 2018 - Researchers develop film to prevent bacteria from growing on dental retainers and aligners
May 26, 2018 - Mobile health intervention for people with serious mental illness as effective as clinic-based treatment
May 26, 2018 - Vaginal estradiol tablets outperform moisturizers when treating vulvovaginal problems
May 26, 2018 - Researchers call for new genetic tests for congenital diseases
May 26, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Campaign promises kept, plus ‘nerd reports’
May 26, 2018 - AARDA collaborates with Allegheny Health Network and new AHN Autoimmunity Institute
May 26, 2018 - Lung-on-a-chip technology could streamline drug-testing for pulmonary fibrosis
May 26, 2018 - Researchers work together to solve mystery of motor neuron death in ALS patients
May 26, 2018 - Study finds early antibiotic initiation for majority of premature infants
May 26, 2018 - New environmental monitoring project finds increased numbers of deer ticks in Southern Indiana
May 26, 2018 - Pediatricians Should Advocate for Life Support Training
May 26, 2018 - Cannabidiol significantly reduces seizures in patients with severe form of epilepsy
May 26, 2018 - Allergies can have serious, far-reaching consequences on adolescents
May 26, 2018 - Scientists develop lab-based system to study mechanisms of common liver disease
May 25, 2018 - New guidelines may help pathologists to more accurately classify and diagnose invasive melanoma
May 25, 2018 - Immune cells promote lung cancer metastases by forming clots in tumors, study finds
May 25, 2018 - Can Excess Weight in Toddlers Cause Brain Drain?
May 25, 2018 - Studying insight
May 25, 2018 - Researchers reveal potent new mechanism of action for treatment of IBD
May 25, 2018 - Study shows lack of follow-up care for patients with concussion
May 25, 2018 - Study establishes the importance of haploid cells
May 25, 2018 - Coveted BMJ award bestowed on The Clatterbridge Cancer Center
May 25, 2018 - AACN outlines evidence-based protocols and clinical strategies to manage alarms
May 25, 2018 - Origami inspires researchers to develop new solution for tissue regeneration
May 25, 2018 - Melorheostosis – Genetics Home Reference
May 25, 2018 - Non-addictive pain medication changing therapy for substance use disorders
May 25, 2018 - Delayed lactate measurements in sepsis patients increase risk of in-hospital death
May 25, 2018 - Researchers identify novel epigenetic mutations as cause of neurodevelopmental, congenital disorders
May 25, 2018 - UD researchers examine connection between DNA replication in HPV and cancer
May 25, 2018 - Researchers identify neurons that play key role in aggressive behavior
May 25, 2018 - Snail’s eye inspires new type of RIOCATH urinary catheter
May 25, 2018 - Russian researchers develop high-tech device-transformer for ultrasound examination
May 25, 2018 - Researchers discover unexpected chemosensor pathway for predator odor-evoked innate fear behaviors
May 25, 2018 - Researchers build 3-D printer that offers sweet solution to making detailed structures
May 25, 2018 - Nearly one in three people know someone addicted to opioids
May 25, 2018 - Research suggests link between faulty gene, alcohol, and heart failure
Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies

Are newborns ugly? Research says newborns rated ‘less cute’ than older babies

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Parents who aren’t feeling that magical bond with their newborn babies need not panic.

It turns out that adults find the faces of babies most appealing at around the six-month mark, says new research from Brock University.

“We want to let parents know that if they’re not instantly grabbed by this baby as much as they thought they might be, then that’s normal. The bonding will build and grow over time,” says Tony Volk, Child and Youth Studies Associate Professor.

In their study, Volk, graduate student Prarthana Franklin and undergraduate student Irisa Wong showed 142 research participants photos of 18 babies taken shortly after birth, at three months old and at six months old.

The researchers asked participants how willing they would be to adopt the babies based on their perceptions of the children’s cuteness, happiness, health and self-resemblance.

“We noticed adults rated the newborns as the least attractive and the six month olds had the highest ratings across all of the facial cues,” says Franklin, the lead author of the study titled “Are Newborns’ Faces Less Appealing?”

“That was interesting because usually we think that the younger children are, the cuter they are,” she says, adding that their study showed “a lower limit of three months old that’s the preferred age compared to newborns.”

Babies, whether they be human or animal, possess certain physical traits that adults consider to be “cute.” In human babies, these could include big eyes, chubby cheeks, broad smiles and cooing noises. Research going back to the 1940s theorized that a baby’s cuteness brings out nurturing and caretaking behaviour in adults, which ensures infant survival.

If this is the case, newborn babies should be seen as being the cutest of all, as they’re the most vulnerable and they need the most protection and care, says Volk. Initially, he and his research team were puzzled by their finding that adults’ perception of cuteness intensifies six months or so after the babies are born.

“We wondered, why would there be this specific peak?” says Volk. “But then, we read the medical literature, which was almost universal in that six month olds are better at surviving illnesses than younger babies.”

Other studies and reports worldwide shows that most infanticide or abandonment occurs within the first few weeks of an infant’s life. Volk says the delay in cuteness perception is an adult-driven adaptation that may be a leftover from evolutionary times when resources were scarce and infant diseases were deadly.

“Hunter-gatherers who already had a child they were nursing, couldn’t nurse two children at once,” says Volk. “If you’re a peasant mother in medieval England and you only have enough food for one child, and if having two means they’re both likely to die, it’s best just to have one child. These are difficult decisions that humans have made for thousands of years,” says Volk. “A delay in attachment makes those early losses easier to cope with.”

Volk identifies two other possible factors for the delay in baby-parent bonding: that it can take up to a month for babies to develop the ability to consciously smile out of happiness; and that fathers who are actively involved with their babies tend to notice that their months-old offspring look like them, which increases the fathers’ bonding.

It turns out babies may also take their time bonding. Previous research shows babies develop a preference for a specific caregiver and experience “separation anxiety” when away from that person at around the seven-month mark.

The Brock research team urges parents and society to come up with ways of bonding with newborns such as infant massage, spending lots of time with the baby, skin-to-skin contact and supporting new parents materially and psychologically as much as possible.


Explore further:
Survival rates for newborns in America nearly same as Sri Lanka, UNICEF finds

More information:
Prarthana Franklin et al. Are newborns’ faces less appealing?, Evolution and Human Behavior (2018). DOI: 10.1016/j.evolhumbehav.2018.01.003

Journal reference:
Evolution and Human Behavior

Provided by:
Brock University

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles