Health Editor’s Note: So, now we are to believe that babies are just into the smile for a reciprocating smile from an adult? That the baby contrives to manipulate. Sometimes babies smile at dogs, cats, birds, other babies, flowers, etc. Maybe this baby smiling process has been overthought……Carol
Babies Time Their Adorable Smiles to Manipulate Adults
by Marissa Fessenden Smithsonian.com
A cute, cuddly baby grins seemingly without guile: eyes crinkle with the merriment of a true smile. But it turns out that these young ones are only smiling to get adults to smile back. What to us appears to be an adorable chuckle, is really a feat of manipulation with some expert timing, researchers have found, reports Gary Robbins for The San Diego Union-Tribune.
“Babies are very goal-oriented,” study leader Javier Movellan, a psychologist at the University of California, San Diego, tells Robbins. The research team found that by timing their smile precisely, babies can elicit maximum smiles with little effort on their part.
However no real babies were harmed in learning their secret. The team used a “toddler” robot named Diego-San to test the smile timing. In tests with undergraduate students, randomly-timed smiles didn’t elicit the attention that perfectly timed smiles did. The researchers figured out the proper programming for the little robot using data from previous studies that examined interactions between mothers and their babies.
The little tykes could time how long they made eye contact and how quickly their lips turned up in a smile by the time they were four months old, the researchers knew.