On our very first day on the planet, the influence
task that faced us was immense. We had to persuade those around us, without
language, without consciousness, without anything like the oratorical prowess
that we possess as adults, to take care of us—to subjugate their own interests
at the expense of ours.
Babies are equipped with three features, fitted as standard, calibrated to cut straight through our deliberation, which are:
1. An unignorable soundtrack that figures at the top of nearly everyone’s list of aversive acoustic stimuli;
2. Appallingly cute good looks, that prove pretty much irresistible to anyone caught in the spotlight;
3. A hard-wired propensity to make eye-contact, to attend to the eye-regions of faces.
In one study, a bunch of wallets were left on the streets of Edinburgh, each containing one of four photographs. A happy family. A cute puppy. An elderly couple. And a smiling baby. Which ones, the researchers wondered, would find their way back to their "owners" most often?
Of the 40 wallets of each type that were dropped, 28% of those containing the portrait of the elderly couple made it back successfully; 48%, the family snapshot; 53%, the photo of the cute puppy.
And a whopping 88%, the picture of the smiling baby!
HT: Via Kevin Dutton - Unfortunately no source was recorded at the time. Happy to rectify that if you can assist.