Friday, June 26, 2009

Women Hate Ugly Babies

According to a new psychiatric study out of the Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital, women are more than twice as likely to turn away from looking at a physically abnormal baby than men are, proving once and for all that the expression "a face only a mother could love" is utterly meaningless. Researchers had thirteen men and fourteen women sit in front of a screen showing photos of eighty babies. The test subjects could hit certain keystrokes to make the photos stay on the screen longer, and they were also asked to rate each baby's attractiveness. Included amongst photos of normal-looking babies (well, as normal as those squishy little monsters can look) were pictures of babies with abnormal facial features due to cleft palates, Down syndrome, crossed eyes, or other afflictions. While the men and women both rated attractiveness in pretty much the same way, the women pressed the keys to remove pictures of the abnormal babies 2.5 times more often than men. The scientists who performed the study don't have a definite explanation for this discrepancy, though they suspect women might be evolutionarily motivated to focus more attention on healthy-looking babies that would have a greater chance for survival in our species' history. Regardless of cause, it's probably a good idea if you're a woman to look around for a second and make sure you haven't given birth to an ugly baby you've been ignoring. More details here.