New Paper:

Kruger, D.J. (2015). Non-mammalian infants requiring parental care elicit greater human care-giving reactions than superprecocial infants do. Ethology, 121, 1-6.

Ethologists proposed the coevolution of pedomorphic characteristics in infants and caregiving responses to these features in parents. Human infants higher in pedomorphic characteristics are more likely to receive baby talk from adults and elicit stronger motivations for caretaking. Neotenous facial characteristics in human adults cue social approach and elicit helping. This study demonstrates generally strong differences in reactions to infants from non-mammalian species requiring parental care (semiprecocial) and superprecocial species within the same class. People perceive semiprecocial infants as more neotenous (cute, immature, and helpless), had greater desires to hold or pet them, thought they would have a greater appreciation of being held or pet, thought they would be less likely to survive on their own, and anticipated being more likely to adopt them compared to superprecocial infants. Both avian and reptilian infants elicited these patterns. There was a moderate degree of sex differences in ratings, women saw the infants as more neotenous and were more willing to adopt them than men.


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