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The interaction between gaze direction and facial expressions in newborns

Rigato, S and Menon, E and Johnson, MH and Farroni, T (2011) 'The interaction between gaze direction and facial expressions in newborns.' European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 8 (5). 624 - 636. ISSN 1740-5629

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Abstract

The ability to decode facial expressions is an important component of social interaction and functioning. This ability is even more fundamental early in life, prior to the development of verbal communication. However, it is still unclear whether newborns can detect, discriminate and process facial expressions, and, if so, what the mechanisms underlying this ability are. In this study, we extend the investigation of perceived emotional expression by manipulating gaze direction with different facial expressions. Specifically, newborns were presented with faces displaying neutral, fearful, or happy facial expressions accompanied with direct or averted gaze, and tested in a visual preference paradigm. Four experiments were conducted in which different combinations of expression and gaze were used. However, only in the fourth experiment did newborns show a visual preference for a specific emotional display; they looked significantly longer at a happy face than a neutral one only when both were accompanied with direct gaze. These results provide support for the advantage of happy facial expressions in the development of a face processing system and suggest that this preference reflects experience acquired during the first few days after birth. © 2011 Psychology Press.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Health > Psychology, Department of
Depositing User: Clare Chatfield
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2013 12:02
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 17:55
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/8244

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