What is it about?

Do infants notice eye contact during conversations? We showed short videos clips of a woman talking. We varied whether the woman looked at the infants. In the regular case, the woman talked and looked forward toward the infant. In other cases, she had her eyes closed, glanced her eyes away, or looked to the side. In addition, we had one version where the woman turned her head to the side yet still looked forward to the infant. We showed the videos to three- or five-month-old infants. By 5 months, infants smiled more at the woman when she was making eye contact with them.

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Why is it important?

This studies show that infants improve what they understand about eye contact. For example, 3-month-olds smiled at a person facing toward them even if the person was not actually looking at them (such as eyes looking to the side). In contrast, by five months, infants notice the difference between people looking at them versus away.


Infants learn from experience that eye contact is important. Their understanding of eye contact is not fully developed at birth.

Rechele Brooks
University of Washington

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Infant sensitivity to deviations in dynamic facial-vocal displays: The role of eye regard., Developmental Psychology, January 1997, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037//0012-1649.33.5.802.
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