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J Cogn Dev. 2009 Jan 1;10(1-2):1-17.

Social information guides infants' selection of foods.

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  • 1Harvard University.


Two experiments investigated the influence of socially conveyed emotions and speech on infants' preferences in the food domain. After watching films in which two unfamiliar actresses each spoke while eating a different kind of food, 12-month-old infants were allowed to choose between the two foods. In Experiment 1, infants selected a food endorsed by a speaker of their native language who displayed positive affect over a food endorsed by a foreign-language speaker who displayed negative affect. In Experiment 2, both actresses displayed positive affect yet spoke in different languages, and infants again selected the food associated with the speaker of their native language. The findings contrast with previous research in which infants and toddlers have shown little selectivity when presented with foods that differ in their intrinsic properties such as color, texture, and familiarity. Although infants may lack capacities for evaluating foods on their own, they do look to other people for guidance in food selection.

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