Developmental Science

Skip to Search

Skip to Navigation

Volume 2 Issue 1 (March 1999), Pages 1-113

Novelty and frequency as determinants of newborn preference (pages 47-52)

The debate over whether infants prefer a familiar stimulus over a novel stimulus has persisted for over 30 years, and there is evidence which supports both sides of the question. However, the research which supports the preference for the familiar uses different measures than that which supports the preference for novelty. In the first experiment, the preference for the familiar was tested by making one stimulus more familiar than the others presented. A target of a ‘familiar’ face was presented eight times more frequently than the other faces. During the experiment, the infants could choose at which face they looked and for how long. It was found that the infants significantly preferred the familiar face over any one of the novel faces, especially when the familiar face was presented first. Substituting auditory for visual stimuli, the second experiment was a replication of the first experiment. Consonant–vowel syllables were used instead of faces. Overall, 17 stimuli were used: one repeating ‘familiar’ sound, and 16 novel sounds. It was found that the infants significantly preferred the familiar sound over any of the novel sounds. As found in Experiment 1, the infants also had a greater preference for the familiar sound when it was presented first.

Add This link

Bookmark and Share>