Facial Diversity and Infant Preferences for Attractive Faces - Langlois, J.H., Ritter, J.M., Roggman, L.A. and Vaughn, L.S. (1991)
Babies could tell us a lot of fascinating information... if only they knew how to! If we know that very young infants possess a certain skill, then this supports the nature side of the nature/nurture debate. On the other hand, if we know they learn it over time, then we would know it was a case of nurture. But how can we find out...?
A 'natural' idea of beauty?
The 'beautycheck' website from Regensburg University has a lot of interesting research about the characteristics of faces that are found attractive. Langlois et al support the idea that there are certain natural features of faces that most people prefer.
Assignment 1 - Alternative Study - Langlois et al as a field experiment
Langlois et al. conducted a lab experiment. An alternative study method would have been to use a field experiment
1. Describe a field experiment as a research method in Psychology. (5)
2. How could they have performed a study with similar aims, but in the field?
Write a description of the study, including the who, what, where and how. (10)
2. What would the advantages and disadvantages of such an experiment be, compared to the original?
Evaluate this new study in practical and methodological terms. (10)
Submit your alternative study and evaluation through the form on the home page.
Assignment 2 - Nature/nurture - You are the examiner
A past paper 2 exam question focused on the nature/nurture debate in psychology. Read the answer in the document below, and mark it using the mark scheme which can be found on page 6 and 7 here. For each question, write a mark and a brief justification for why you've give that mark. Submit your marks through the form on the home page.
The video to the right shows how certain mathematical features seem to be present in faces that we would normally rate as 'attractive'. This is also supports Langlois' argument that we have certain universal, innate preferences for particular types of face.
Big Issue - Langlois et al and the nature/nurture debate
The Nature/nurture debate was already briefly introduced on the Held and Hein page. A slightly longer introduction can be found on Saul McLeod's site.
Where does the Langlois study fall on this spectrum? Why?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of taking such a position?
Make a table of the advantages and disadvantages of taking nature and nurture positions (hint - the advantages of one side are often the disadvantages of the other side).
Revision Assignment - Create a Langlois et al revision podcast or video
Podcasts are a great way to revise, and by making them yourself you are interacting with the material twice, so it will be twice as effective! Podcasts are easy to make using itunes, or there are other options here. If you prefer, you can upload a video to YouTube.
Email me the link of your podcast/video. The best ones will be embedded in the website... like Asyraf and Aston's below!
A Brief History of Infant Research Paradigms
Baillargeon's object permanence experiment. Look it up.
Finding ways to measure the responses of young infants (who, for obvious reasons, we can't simply ask to describe their feelings to us) is a huge challenge.
Researchers have designed many ingenious ways around this problem...
Experiments on infants tend to be extremely simple, and often also to find an easily measurable behavioural DV which is a reliable indicator of the psychological feature being investigated (for example, Langlois used looking time as an indication of preference).
Some of the most creative and elegant experiments in all of psychology have been ones done on young infants, and they have told us huge amounts. For example, research the work of:
Also read this article, which covers some more uses of the preferential looking paradigm which Langlois et al used.