Preprint Article Version 1 This version is not peer-reviewed

Brief Exposure to Infants Activates Social and Intergroup Vigilance

Version 1 : Received: 21 February 2020 / Approved: 25 February 2020 / Online: 25 February 2020 (05:31:00 CET)
Version 2 : Received: 26 March 2020 / Approved: 27 March 2020 / Online: 27 March 2020 (03:51:50 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Cheon, B.; Esposito, G. Brief Exposure to Infants Activates Social and Intergroup Vigilance. Behav. Sci. 2020, 10, 72. Cheon, B.; Esposito, G. Brief Exposure to Infants Activates Social and Intergroup Vigilance. Behav. Sci. 2020, 10, 72.

Journal reference: Behav. Sci. 2020, 10, 72
DOI: 10.3390/bs10040072

Abstract

Among humans, simply looking at infants can activate affiliative and nurturant behaviors. Yet it remains unknown whether mere exposure to infants also activates generalized defensiveness in the absence of immediate threats. Here, we demonstrate that simply viewing faces of infants (especially from the ingroup) may heighten vigilance against social threats and support for institutions that purportedly maintain security. In Study 1 (United States), stronger affiliative reactions to images of infants (but not adults or puppies) predicted stronger perceptions of a dangerous world, endorsement of right-wing authoritarianism, and support for social-political conservatism (relative to liberalism). Study 2 (Italy) revealed that exposure to images of ingroup infants (compared to outgroup infants) increased intergroup bias against outgroups characterized as threatening (immigrants and Arabs) and increased conservatism. These findings suggest a predisposed preparedness for social vigilance in the mere presence of infants, even in the absence of salient external threats.

Subject Areas

parental care system; intergroup bias; infant exposure; social vigilance

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