Mother-stranger face discrimination by the newborn

Tiffany M. Field, Debra Cohen, Robert Garcia, Reena Greenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Newborn infants discriminate their mother's face from the face of a stranger shortly after birth. The neonates (M age=45 hours) showed an initial preference for their mother's face. The mother's face (or face and voice) was then presented to the neonates for repeated trials until the infant reached an habituation criterion. In a subsequent discrimination test the infants looked significantly longer at the stranger's face, suggesting that the mother's face was discriminated after very limited experience. Although voice cues were not required for this discrimination, the possibility remains that other cues, such as the mother's odor, may facilitate the discrimination of her face.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-25
Number of pages7
JournalInfant Behavior and Development
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1984


  • face discrimination
  • mother-stranger
  • newborn

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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