Publication Date

2018-11-07

Availability

Embargoed

Embargo Period

2020-11-06

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Psychology (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2018-10-24

First Committee Member

Elizabeth A. Simpson

Second Committee Member

Daniel Messinger

Third Committee Member

Krisztina V. Jakobsen

Abstract

Face detection is a foundational ability, guiding infants’ attention to relevant social information. However, little is known about face detection in the first months of life. Using eye-tracking, we measured 2-month-olds’ (N=72) social orienting to human faces, compared to animal faces and objects, presented within complex, 4-item arrays. Males looked faster and longer to human faces than females. Further, males, but not females, looked faster and longer to human faces compared to other images. This is the first study to report a male-advantage in face detection. While the causes and consequences remain to be determined, our findings suggest that attention capture and attention holding advantages for faces may be sexually dimorphic. These results appear contrary to findings of stronger social attention in female newborns and older infants, and suggest, at 2 months, males may be more sociable. Two months might be a unique stage in social development for male infants.

Keywords

visual attention; sociality; face perception; face-to-face interactions; gender; own-species bias

Available for download on Friday, November 06, 2020

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