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Infant color preference for red is not selectively context specific

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posted on 2023-06-07, 17:58 authored by Anna FranklinAnna Franklin, Emily Gibbons, Katie Chittenden, James Alvarez, Chloe Taylor
It has been proposed that human infants, like nonhuman primates, respond favorably to red in hospitable contexts, yet unfavorably in hostile contexts (Maier, Barchfeld, Elliot, & Pekrun, 2009). Here, we replicate and extend the study (Maier et al., 2009) whose findings have been used to support this hypothesis. As in Maier et al., 1-year-old infants were shown a photograph of a happy or angry face before pairs of colors were presented, yet in the current study, the set of stimuli crucially included two colors that are typically preferred by infants (red and blue). The percentage of times that infants looked first at the colors was analyzed for the two emotional “contexts.” Following the happy face, infants looked first at red and blue equally, but significantly more than green. Following the angry face, the pattern of looking preference was the same as following the happy face, but the variation across the three colors was reduced. Contrary to Maier et al.'s hypothesis, there was no evidence that infants are selectively averse to red in angry contexts: following the angry face, “preference” for both red and blue was reduced, but was not significantly below chance. We therefore suggest an alternative account to Maier et al.'s evolutionary hypothesis, which argues that an angry face merely removes infant color preference, potentially due to the perceptual characteristics of the angry face disrupting infants' encoding of color. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)


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American Psychological Association





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