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Women can spot 'cute' babies best: research.

Women are much better at spotting a cute baby than men, according to university research out Wednesday.

Psychologists at the University of St Andrews 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 (progesterone and oestrogen).

"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 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 in post-natal depression.- AFP

Daily NewsEgypt 2009

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Publication:Daily News Egypt (Egypt)
Date:Feb 6, 2009
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