The Role of Multisensory Information in Infants' Recognition of their Fathers

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Virginia Tech

The present study was designed to investigate the development of infants' recognition of their fathers, specifically examining the role of multisensory information (visual and auditory cues). All infants were 4-months-old and were tested in a visual-fixation preference procedure.

The two measures of interest were attention and affective responsiveness. Preference was measured by the amount of time the infants watched a visual stimulus. In Experiments 1 and 2 this stimulus was the paternal face. In Experiment 2 the paternal face was also accompanied by the paternal voice. In Experiment 3, the stimulus was the maternal face plus voice. Affective responsiveness was coded for hedonic tone, interest and excitement. It was found that infants showed more positive affect towards their fathers' faces (Experiment 1) and faces plus voices (Experiment 2), p < .05. In Experiment 3, results showed that infants preferred their mothers' faces plus voices over an unfamiliar female face plus voice when the first trial was excluded from the analysis, p < .05. These findings not only support the literature on infants' recognition of their mothers, but they also contribute to the increasing body of information on infants and their fathers. The findings are interpreted as supporting the hypothesis that the developmental pattern of father recognition is qualitatively and quantitatively different from that of mother recognition.

Infant perception, parent-child relations, Multisensory recognition