I spy with my little eye: typical, daily exposure to faces documented from a first-person infant perspective

Dev Psychobiol. 2014 Feb;56(2):249-61. doi: 10.1002/dev.21183. Epub 2013 Nov 28.


Exposure to faces is known to shape and change the face processing system; however, no study has yet documented infants' natural daily first-hand exposure to faces. One- and three-month-old infants' visual experience was recorded through head-mounted cameras. The video recordings were coded for faces to determine: (1) How often are infants exposed to faces? (2) To what type of faces are they exposed? and (3) Do frequently encountered face types reflect infants' typical pattern of perceptual narrowing? As hypothesized, infants spent a large proportion of their time (25%) exposed to faces; these faces were primarily female (70%), own-race (96%), and adult-age (81%). Infants were exposed to more individual exemplars of female, own-race, and adult-age faces than to male, other-race, and child- or older-adult-age faces. Each exposure to own-race faces was longer than to other-race faces. There were no differences in exposure duration related to the gender or age of the face. Previous research has found that the face types frequently experienced by our participants are preferred over and more successfully recognized than other face types. The patterns of face exposure revealed in the current study coincide with the known trajectory of perceptual narrowing seen later in infancy.

Keywords: development; exposure to faces; face perception; head-mounted camera; infancy; other-age effect; other-race effect; perceptual narrowing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Discrimination, Psychological / physiology*
  • Face*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pattern Recognition, Visual / physiology*
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Recognition, Psychology / physiology*
  • Visual Perception / physiology*