Father versus Stranger Face Discrimination by the Human Infant: A Case Study

Erin L. White '04, Illinois Wesleyan University


The ability of infants to discriminate and recognize faces gained recent attention; however, much of the research focused on discrimination of the mother's face from a female stranger's face. This study examined father versus stranger face discrimination using an operant sucking procedure, in which images of fathers and strangers were presented on a computer monitor contingent upon the sucking responses of the infant. Discrimination was determined by computing the difference in the number of responses for each face. Results indicated that 3 infants under the age of 4 months discriminated the father's image from the image of a stranger, consistent with the schema theory of face perception. Future research should include larger sample sizes, and further study the mechanism of infant face discrimination.