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Volume 8 Issue 6 (November 2005), Pages F31-F36, 459-620

Three‐month‐olds, but not newborns, prefer own‐race faces (pages F31-F36)

  • Author(s): David J. Kelly, Paul C. Quinn, Alan M. Slater, Kang Lee, Alan Gibson, Michael Smith, Liezhong Ge, Olivier Pascalis
  • Published 25 Oct 2005
  • DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2005.0434a.x


Adults are sensitive to the physical differences that define ethnic groups. However, the age at which we become sensitive to ethnic differences is currently unclear. Our study aimed to clarify this by testing newborns and young infants for sensitivity to ethnicity using a visual preference (VP) paradigm. While newborn infants demonstrated no spontaneous preference for faces from either their own‐ or other‐ethnic groups, 3‐month‐old infants demonstrated a significant preference for faces from their own‐ethnic group. These results suggest that preferential selectivity based on ethnic differences is not present in the first days of life, but is learned within the first 3 months of life. The findings imply that adults’ perceptions of ethnic differences are learned and derived from differences in exposure to own‐ versus other‐race faces during early development.

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