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  1. Females generally attend more to social information than males; however, little is known about the early development of these sex differences. With eye tracking, we measured 2-month-olds’ (N=101) social orienting to faces within 4-item image arrays. Infants, overall, were more likely to detect human faces compared to objects, suggesting a functional face detection system. Unexpectedly, males looked longer at human faces than females, and only males looked faster and longer at human faces compared to objects. Females, in contrast, looked less at human faces relative to animal faces and objects, appearing socially disinterested. Notably, this is the first report of a male face detection advantage at any age. These findings suggest a unique stage in early infant social development.
  2. Humans demonstrate enhanced processing of human faces compared with animal faces, known as own-species bias. This bias is important for identifying people who may cause harm, as well as for recognizing friends and kin. However, growing evidence also indicates a more general face bias. Faces have high evolutionary importance beyond conspecific interactions, as they aid in detecting predators and prey. Few studies have explored the interaction of these biases together. In three experiments, we explored processing of human and animal faces, compared with each other and to nonface objects, which allowed us to examine both own-species and broader face biases. We used a dot-probe paradigm to examine human adults’ covert attentional biases for task-irrelevant human faces, animal faces, and objects. We replicated the own-species attentional bias for human faces relative to animal faces. We also found an attentional bias for animal faces relative to objects, consistent with the proposal that faces broadly receive privileged processing. Our findings suggest that humans may be attracted to a broad class of faces. Further, we found that while participants rapidly attended to human faces across all cue display durations, they attended to animal faces only when they had sufficient time to process them. Ourmore »findings reveal that the dot-probe paradigm is sensitive for capturing both own-species and more general face biases, and that each has a different attentional signature, possibly reflecting their unique but overlapping evolutionary importance.« less