We all have in mind that moment when a newborn, whom we see for the first time maybe, remains staring at us with wide eyes and a stupefied expression. So, we would have surely wondered "why are you looking at me like that? What's going on in your mind now?".
A group of researchers has tried to answer these questions, looking for the natural instinct - else it could not be because we are talking about newborns - that pushes us to fix certain faces rather than others.
Believe it or not, if a newborn stares at you without taking your eyes off you, it's because he considers you beautiful. Seriously. It is not a subjective matter, scientists have seen that it is a common response to children, who seem to prefer to fix only some faces and ignore others.
At the base of this assumption there is an experiment that involved adults and newborn children, a couple of weeks of life at most. To exclude the hypothesis that children could focus on some faces by association with other people, the researchers identified only children who remained in hospital after birth; in this way the possible influences from the outside world have been reduced to a minimum.
The experiment foresaw that adults express a rating of 1 to 5 on a scale of attraction, after viewing a series of faces. Later, the children were offered the same photographs and their reactions were noted.
It was not at all difficult to identify the faces that most captured the attention of children who, not too casually, were the same faces that had obtained a greater vote by adults.
Why does this happen? According to the researchers, children are more affected by "beautiful" faces because they are more like the prototype of a human face. Therefore, in the mind of a newborn, these attractive faces could represent the "stereotype of a human face" that, with evolution, they have learned to recognize.
Newborn children have a very detailed vision of faces and manage to grasp traits that escape the eyes of an adult; this helps them in recognizing the face of family members, a relatively complex activity for a newborn.
Dr. Alan Slater of the University of Exter, principal author of the study, summarized the research as follows: "Attractiveness is not in the eye of the beholder, but is innate for a newborn".
Now you can blush whenever a newborn will stare at you!