Individual recognition of human infants on the basis of cries alone

Authors

  • James A. Green,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
    2. Department of Pediatrics and Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center Durham, North Carolina
    • Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, Illinois 60115, U.S.A.
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  • Gwene E. Gustafson

    1. Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
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Abstract

Human parents were asked to identify their infants on the basis of tape-recorded cries that they had not previously heard. The cries of twenty 30-day-old infants were recorded just prior to a feeding, then rerecorded onto a test tape containing cries from three other infants. Eighty percent of mothers were able to recognize their infants's cries, as were 45% of fathers. An additional 140 adults (non--parents) were tested in order to determine if the process of dubbing cries into test tapes had left extraneous auditory cues to infants' identities and if the foil infants were equally discriminable. The results indicated that parents' recognition was not based on extraneous cues and that, overall, the foils were appropriate distractors in the parents' task. Thus, the majority of parents can recognize their 30-day-old infants on the sole basis of acoustic cues contained in the infants' cries. The acoustic features that underlie this recognition are now being investigated.

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