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October 2021

Infant responses to adult happy and sad vocal and facial expressions during face-to-face interactions

Author(s): Muir, D.

Journal/Book: Infant Behav Develop. 1999; 22: 655 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10010, USA. Elsevier Science Inc. 527-539.

Abstract: We examined 5-month-olds' responses to adult facial versus vocal displays of happy and sad expressions during face-to-face social interactions in three experiments. Infants interacted with adults in either happy-sad-happy or happy-happy-happy sequences. Across experiments, either facial expressions were present while presence/absence of vocal expressions was manipulated or visual access to facial expressions was blocked but vocal expressions were present throughout. Both visual attention and infant affect were recorded. Although infants looked more when vocal expressions were present, they smiled significantly more to happy than to sad facial expressions regardless of presence or absence of the voice. In contrast, infants showed no evidence of differential responding to voices when faces were obscured; their smiling and visual attention simply declined over time. These results extend findings from non-social contexts to social interactions and also indicate that infants may require facial expressions to be present to discriminate among adult vocal expressions of affect.

Note: Article D'Entremont B, Univ Manitoba, Dept Family Studies, Winnipeg, MB R3T 2N2, CANADA

Keyword(s): face-voice perception; social interactions; infant attention and affect; 5-month-olds; DEPRESSED MOTHERS; PERCEPTION; DISCRIMINATION; RESPONSIVENESS; SENSITIVITY; INFORMATION; PREFERENCE; SYNCHRONY; VOICE

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