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Women can spot 'cute' babies best: research

Women are much better at spotting a cute baby than men, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 university research out Wednesday.

Psychologists at the University of St Andrews "St Andrew's University" redirects here. For the private university in Argentina, see Universidad de San Andrés. For the private university in Japan, see Momoyama Gakuin University.  in Scotland used computer image manipulation to produce subtle variations in baby faces.

They found that women could distinguish a "cute" baby -- chubby cheeks, large forehead, big round eyes and button nose -- far more easily than men, who struggled to spot the difference.

The researchers believe that cuteness sensitivity may be down to female hormones.

"We found that young women between 19-26 and (women aged) 45-51 years were more sensitive to differences in infant cuteness than men aged 19-26 and 53-60 years," said Doctor Reiner Sprengelmeyer.

However, women aged 53-60 performed at the same level as men in determining the "cuteness" of the newborns.

"Because average age at menopause is 51 years in the UK, these findings suggest the possible involvement of reproductive hormones in cuteness sensitivity," Sprengelmeyer said.

"We therefore compared cuteness discrimination in pre- and post-menopausal women of the same age alongside women taking and not taking oral contraceptives Oral Contraceptives Definition

Oral contraceptives are medicines taken by mouth to help prevent pregnancy. They are also known as the Pill, OCs, or birth control pills.
 (progesterone progesterone (prōjĕs`tərōn'), female sex hormone that induces secretory changes in the lining of the uterus essential for successful implantation of a fertilized egg.  and oestrogen oes·tro·gen
Variant of estrogen.


see estrogen.

"Pre-menopausal women and young women taking oral contraceptives -- which raise hormone levels artificially -- were more sensitive to variations of cuteness than their respective comparison groups."

Psychologists at St Andrews conducted the research along with colleagues from the universities of Bern in Switzerland, Bielefeld in Germany and York in England.

They chose 10 images from a pool of more than 100 baby pictures and combined them into a composite of a "cute" baby face.

They repeated the process to create a less "cute" baby face.

The findings led them to suggest that cuteness sensitivity is modulated by female reproductive hormones.

Sprengelmeyer said: "Given that cuteness is considered an indicator of being young, helpless, and in need of care, we hypothesise Verb 1. hypothesise - to believe especially on uncertain or tentative grounds; "Scientists supposed that large dinosaurs lived in swamps"
conjecture, hypothesize, speculate, theorise, theorize, hypothecate, suppose
 that the ability to detect small variations in the degree of cuteness may have evolved to guide the allocation of necessary maternal resources to the infant."

Further research will explore whether cuteness sensitivity is implicated im·pli·cate  
tr.v. im·pli·cat·ed, im·pli·cat·ing, im·pli·cates
1. To involve or connect intimately or incriminatingly: evidence that implicates others in the plot.

 in post-natal depression.
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Publication:AFP European Edition
Date:Jan 21, 2009
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