Gender differences in the motivational processing of babies are determined by their facial attractiveness.


Journal Article

This study sought to determine how esthetic appearance of babies may affect their motivational processing by the adults.Healthy men and women were administered two laboratory-based tasks: a) key pressing to change the viewing time of normal-looking babies and of those with abnormal facial features (e.g., cleft palate, strabismus, skin disorders, Down's syndrome and fetal alcohol syndrome) and b) attractiveness ratings of these images. Exposure to the babies' images produced two different response patterns: for normal babies, there was a similar effort by the two groups to extend the visual processing with lower attractiveness ratings by men; for abnormal babies, women exerted greater effort to shorten the viewing time despite attractiveness ratings comparable to the men.These results indicate that gender differences in the motivational processing of babies include excessive (relative to the esthetic valuation) motivation to extend the viewing time of normal babies by men vs. shortening the exposure to the abnormal babies by women. Such gender-specific incentive sensitization phenomenon may reflect an evolutionary-derived need for diversion of limited resources to the nurturance of healthy offspring.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yamamoto, R; Ariely, D; Chi, W; Langleben, DD; Elman, I

Published Date

  • June 24, 2009

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 4 / 6

Start / End Page

  • e6042 -

PubMed ID

  • 19554100

Pubmed Central ID

  • 19554100

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1932-6203

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1932-6203

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1371/journal.pone.0006042


  • eng