Developmental Science

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Volume 21 Issue 2 (March 2018), Pages

Older but not younger infants associate own‐race faces with happy music and other‐race faces with sad music

Abstract

We used a novel intermodal association task to examine whether infants associate own‐ and other‐race faces with music of different emotional valences. Three‐ to 9‐month‐olds saw a series of neutral own‐ or other‐race faces paired with happy or sad musical excerpts. Three‐ to 6‐month‐olds did not show any specific association between face race and music. At 9 months, however, infants looked longer at own‐race faces paired with happy music than at own‐race faces paired with sad music. Nine‐month‐olds also looked longer at other‐race faces paired with sad music than at other‐race faces paired with happy music. These results indicate that infants with nearly exclusive own‐race face experience develop associations between face race and music emotional valence in the first year of life. The potential implications of such associations for developing racial biases in early childhood are discussed.

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