Exposure to infant images enhances attention control in mothers

A. Karreman*, M.M.E. Riem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
75 Downloads (Pure)


Viewing cute images has been reported to promote performance on tasks requiring carefulness, possibly related to an enhanced positive emotional state. However, it is unclear whether viewing infant images also enhances attention control in mothers. Therefore, this experimental study examined whether exposure to images of infants affected mothers’ performance on a visual search task, studying associations with happy facial expressivity. Mothers (N = 101, Mage = 30.88) were randomly assigned to one of two conditions in which they either viewed images of infants or images of adults. Before and after viewing images, mothers performed a visual search task. Mothers’ happy facial expressions at baseline and when viewing images were analysed. Viewing images of infants, in contrast to viewing images of adults, improved task performance indexed by accurateness, but not the number of correct responses. Images of infants elicited happy facial expressivity, which was associated with the number of correct responses on the visual search task. This study showed that viewing images of infants evokes happy facial expressions in mothers and can improve mothers’ performance on a perceptual-cognitive task requiring attention control. Mothers’ responses to infant images may be explained as an attentional preparedness for caregiving.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)986-993
JournalCognition and Emotion
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cuteness
  • attention control
  • emotions
  • facial expressivity
  • visual search task


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