In this study, we will test for evidence of aesthetic appreciation in infants. This unique population is helpful in understanding the factors driving aesthetic appreciation in two important ways: first, since infants have not lived in the world for very long, the influence of cultural and historical standards of beauty are limited.
Secondly, they also lack higher level cognitive and emotional skills that have been linked to appreciation of beauty. Thus, a test of aesthetic preference in infants will achieve the following goal: we will assess the legitimacy of categorizing an appreciation of aesthetics as a product of neuropsychological activation that precedes significant cultural influence and higher level cognitive and emotional processing.
If indeed infants as young as 6-months prefer artistic masterpieces over subtly altered versions, this would suggest that the development of aesthetics begins as an innate interest in the salient and objective features present in art deemed “beautiful” by adults.
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Directions to the Baby Lab