Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences






The sample started with 110 six-month-old infants who were recruited from the subject pool at the University of Austin’s Children’s Research Lab. After 50 infants were removed, only 60 infants (35 boys and 25 girls) remained and made up the final sample. Removal was carried out for the following reasons:

  • 41 infants eliminated for fussing
  • 3 infants eliminated for computer/equipment failure
  • 3 infants eliminated for experimenter error
  • 2 infants eliminated because of mother
  • 1 infant eliminated for being premature

The remaining 60 infants were all healthy, full-term and middle class. The majority of them (53) were White, 5 were Hispanic, 1 was Black and 1 was Asian.


Two faces (one attractive, one unattractive) were simultaneously projected onto a screen. The infant sat on their parent’s lap about 35cm from the screen. All parents wore occluded glasses to prevent them from viewing the faces – this made sure that parental preferences would not be communicated to the child. A light with a buzzing noise were used to catch the infant’s attention and to make them look at the screen just before each trial began. When the infant looked at the centre of the screen, the next pair of slides would be displayed. Each trial lasted for 10 seconds.

During intervals between trials, filtered light was used to keep the screen’s brightness consistent.

Stimuli (the slides) were presented in two sets, each containing 16 slides. Each set was divided into eight blocks, each containing two slides. After every eight blocks, infants had a 5-10 minute break to avoid tiredness. All slides were paired according to sex so infants only saw pairs of females or pairs of males.

To control bias related to the side of a slide, each block consisted of two consecutive 10-second trials in which a pair was shown with one face on the left and one face on the right, but they were reversed on for the second trial (right-side face was reversed to be on the left side, and vice versa).

There were two presentation conditions:

  1. Alternating (alternating pairs of males and females)
  2. Grouped (female slides together and male slides together)

The following factors were randomised:

  • Order of the presentation of sets
  • Order of a slide pair’s presentation
  • Order of slide pairing

Trial length, slight advancement and data recording were controlled by a lab computer.

An experimenter observed infants’ visual fixations (where they looked on the screen) on a video monitor that was connected to a video camera under the projection screen. Direction and duration of looks were recorded on the keyboard of a lab computer.

The experimenter watched the infant on the video screen, which made sure the experimenter could not see the displayed slides. Therefore, they were blind to the attractiveness level of the observed slides.

To determine if the infants’ preferences for faces was influenced by the attractiveness of their mothers, photographs of all mothers were taken and analysed by 72 undergraduates (29 men and 43 women) on a five-point Likert scale.


The results showed the following:

  • Infants looked longer at attractive faces, regardless of the gender of the faces.
  • The presentation condition was not significant.
  • Boys looked at male faces longer than female faces.
  • Girls looked longer at female faces too, but this difference was not that significant.
  • Infant looking time decreased as the trials/blocks went on.
  • No significant relationship was found between mother attractiveness and attractiveness of the face stimulus.



The sample started with 43 six-month-old infants from the same Children’s Research Lab.

  • 2 infants eliminated for fussing
  • 1 infant eliminated because of equipment failure

The remaining 40 infants (15 boys and 25 girls) made up the final sample. They were all healthy and full-term. The majority (36) of infants were White while 2 were Black and 2 were Hispanic.


The second study used faces of 16 adult Black women; eight had previously been rated as attractive while the other eight had been rated as unattractive. All faces had neutral expressions and masked and clothing cues.

The same visual preference technique of Study 1 was used again with two modifications:

  1. No presentation condition
  2. Reduction in number of trials/blocks to lessen infant fatigue

Each infant saw four of the eight attractive slides paired with four of the eight unattractive slides. They were presented in four blocks. Each pair was presented twice (the second presentation was in reverse left-right form). Slide pairing was random.

As in Study 1, mothers’ photographs were taken to assess whether or not mother attractiveness influenced infant preference. The photos were rated on attractiveness by 49 undergraduates (27 men and 22 women) on a five-point Likert scale.


The results showed the following:

  • Infants looked longer at attractive Black women’s faces than unattractive faces.
  • Infants looked for longer during the first two trials/blocks.
  • No significant relationship was found between mother attractiveness and attractiveness of the face stimulus.



The sample started with 52 six-month-old infants from the same Lab.

  • 11 infants eliminated for fussing
  • 2 infants eliminated for not being tested on time

The remaining 39 infants (19 boys and 20 girls) were healthy, full-term and middle class. The majority (37) were White while 2 were Hispanic.


The third study used slides of the faces of 16 three-month-old male and female infants, who had been rated for attractiveness by at least 40 undergraduate students on a five-point Likert scale.

Four male and four female attractive faces were used as the stimuli alongside four male and four female unattractive faces. All faces had neutral expressions with masked clothing cues.

The visual preference technique used in Study 1 and Study 2 was used again in this study. However, maternal attractiveness was not checked in this study because it was found to be insignificant in both of the previous studies.


The results showed the following:

  • Infants looked longer at attractive baby faces than they did at unattractive ones.
  • Infants looked for longer during the first two trials/blocks.
  • The sex of the infant was insignificant.

Type of research method

Laboratory experiment.

Type of data collected

Quantitative data.

Independent variable


Dependent variable






Ethical issues


Reference: Langlois, J. H., Ritter, J. M., Roggman, L. A. and Vaughn, L. S. (1991). Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces. Developmental Psychology. 27(1): 79-84.

39 thoughts on “Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences

  1. Hey Maryam, are you able to explain this in another word?

    “Stimuli (the slides) were presented in two sets, each containing 16 slides. Each set was divided into eight blocks, each containing two slides.”

    I find it confusing 😦

  2. hi its me0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000




      • I haven’t written the ethics for this study yet but they’re always written briefly. As I said, this is just a summary.

        Secondly, this study used children under 16 so informed consent was gained from the parents. Other than that, there were no issues like deception or harm (the children were given breaks to prevent tiredness and fatigue as well).


    • Hi there,

      Sorry but I’m not sure what main points you’re referring to as this is just a summary/breakdown of the study.

      The ethical issues are mainly just related to the use of children (so gaining consent from parents, protecting them from any harm, etc.). Other than that, there aren’t many ethical issues to discuss here as it was all straightforward.


  3. Hey, can you just tell me what the strengths and weaknesses of this study are.. exams in less than two days and im freaking out,
    btw, i love your blog- psychology actually makes sense!

    • Hi Maha!

      I’m going to finish updating this study today, hopefully, but in the meantime here is a summary of some strengths and weaknesses that you can discuss for this study:

      Strengths: High level of control (so more validity and identification of causal relationship), use of computer equipment (so less chance of human error), replicable procedure (so reliable results).

      Weaknesses: Artificial set-up (so low ecological validity), unrealistic task (so mundane realism issues), quantitative data (so lack of detail in findings).

      Hope this gives you somewhere to start!

      Maryam X

      • Thankyouu!
        Can you explain why the repeated measures design was NOT used in the Baron-Cohen Study… i know this is the Langlois page buuut… ;-;
        Thankyou so much for all your help! ❤

        • Hi Maha,

          Sorry to be a nuisance but can you please redirect your question and put it on the right page? It doesn’t take more than a few seconds and it actually helps everyone else who might have the same question. Many students are just posting all over the place now and I want the website to regain some organisation.


  4. Hey. My exam is on Saturday and it’d be really nice if you can finish this study and a few other incomplete ones since this is the only website I completely trust and study from. It’d be great if you could do this. Love your work!

  5. Hi, I would really like if you could please give me a some information about the background of this study as soon as possible.

    • Hi Saher!

      The background of this study is quite basic: previous studies and research showed that infants could discriminate between attractive and unattractive male and female adult faces. Research also showed that infants were less interested in male faces if they were not shown alongside female faces. Langlois et al. conducted this study to see if they could replicate previous studies’ results AND to see what factors affect infant preference as well as whether or not infant preference could be seen in other types of faces as well (e.g. faces of a different race).

      You can read about this in a lot more detail if you check out Langlois’ research paper! Hope this was helpful.

      Best wishes,

  6. hey maryam, when are you planning to complete this study? im only left with this one and i have a paper in less than 5 days. please please complete this study, i don’t understand or trust other blogs or sites in this regard. i’ll be very grateful if you complete these. thankyouu.

    ps: Love your work

    • Hi Ayesha!

      The content should be fully completed by tonight (in a few hours), but all the main stuff is mostly up so make sure you go through it before the exam. If you need another incomplete study to be done before the exam then let me know – I’ll try and put up all the main points of studies within the next few hours.

      Thank you SO much for the kind words! Feel free to ask if you need anything else before the paper.

      Good luck for your exams – let me know how they go!
      Maryam XXX

    • I’m really sorry, Anum. I haven’t been active on this blog for a while. Just to let you know, though, I am back and will be completing the pages on here over the next few days/weeks.

      Sorry for making you wait!
      Maryam XXX

  7. Hi when are you going to finish these notes? My exams are in less than a fortnight, and I would really appreciate it if you finish it before that. I love your notes as they make the case studies more understandable 🙂

    • Hi Nurin,

      First of all, can I say a big fat shameful SORRY to everyone who has been waiting for these notes! I promise, today I’m going to sit my bum down and finish as many of the notes as possible. I’ve been really busy (marriage plus travelling equals tired girl) but I know that quite a few people are scarily close to their exams now. So yes, I’ll get started right away.

      And hey, thank you very much for the sweet words – I really do appreciate it!

      Maryam XXX

      • damn ;__; my paper’s tomorrow….. I’d have to do this one from some other site I guess.. Your notes are by far the best yet!

        • Oh my goodness, this made me a little sad! I’m really sorry that my notes weren’t available for you before the exam, but I’m sure you’ll still have done well! Thank you SO much for the kind words. I really appreciate it!

          Good luck for any future psychological endeavours,
          Maryam XXX

  8. Hi.Can i know when can you complete some of the notes? I’m actually having my as exam very soon it will mean a lot if you can help. Thanks a lot! 🙂

    • Hi Alice! I will try to upload the notes by this weekend. Is that alright? If you’re taking the CIE exam then I think you have your exams in a month so I’ll try to complete the notes you need urgently first! Next week is really busy for me (eek) so I’ll do what I can this weekend. Some details would be helpful!

      Maryam XXX

      • Thanks for the prompt reply! Yes yes it’s fine ! 🙂 Can i have the notes for (Facial Diversity and Infant Preference) & ( Reading the mind in the eyes) ?
        Thanks a lot! Hope you have a great weekend! 😀

    • Hello Haya,

      Yes! I am planning to complete ALL the notes on this study. I’m actually a little caught up with life at the moment so I’ve been too busy to update my notes, but hopefully I’ll get back on track gradually. Let me know if you need anything urgently!

      Thank you,
      Maryam XXX

      • Oh thats fine. I needed the notes for facial diversity a bit urgently. I’m having trouble understanding its procedure!

        • Hi Haya!

          I’ve had a few requests for this study now so I’ll definitely make it my first priority. I’ll make sure to put time in to update this study as soon as I get a free minute – promise!

          Maryam XXX

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