Study 1: Will babies detect briefly presented emotional expressions?

Participants: Infants 7 months old or younger

Study Duration: Approximately 30 minutes

Location: In-person, Kansas City University

As babies grow, they are always watching and learning from your face-to-face interactions. By the end of the first year, infants understand what facial expression goes with what emotion (for example, smiles mean that you are happy). But before they can learn the meaning of emotional expressions, their visual system must first be able to detect an emotional expression is present.

This study will help us understand how quickly babies detect emotional expressions, something they first must be able to do before understanding the difference between emotional expressions.

We will be showing babies pictures of faces posing happiness, fear, and anger to see if they detect emotional expressions compared to a neutral expression. Some of the pictures will be presented very quickly. Adults are able to detect emotional faces very rapidly, in as little as 20ms!

In this study, we will record your baby as they look at very briefly presented facial expressions on the computer. We will use a camera that records where on the screen your child is looking to see if they look at the emotional face location. We want to see if they can detect where and when an emotional face is presented. Future directions for this research include examining whether how quickly babies detect emotional facial expressions relates to their social outcomes as toddlers.

Study 2: Emotion Detection and Later Social Outcomes

Participants: Infants 3-4 Months

Study Duration: Approximately four 30-45 minute visits at 3.5 months, 7.5 months, 12.5 months, and 15 months old

Location: In-person, Kansas City University

We are conducting the same emotion detection study described above with a group of younger infants to see how this ability develops over time, and whether visual attention to briefly presented emotions predicts later social outcomes. We are looking for parents of babies who will be 3-4 months sometime between ~ the end of October 2023 to the month of May 2024. You can contact us even if you are a parent-to-be who will have a child that is 3-4 months during this range, or of course any time before your child is 3-4 months also. You and your baby’s participation in this study will involve up to four visits to the KCU Baby Development Lab. If we are able to calibrate the eye tracking camera and collect data from your child at the 3.5 month visit, you will be asked to come back at 7.5 months, 12.5 months, and 15 months for additional visits. At the 7-8 month and 12-13 month visits, the procedures will be exactly the same as those previously described. If we are unable to collect data from your child (either due to an equipment failure, camera calibration issue, or because your child becomes too fussy to continue) at any of the 3 appointments, you will likely not be asked to participate at 15 months because we will not have a usable amount of data. We highly encourage parents to participate in the study at all 4 ages.

As compensation, at the 3.5-month visit you will receive $50 for your time (about a 45-minute visit to the lab). If you complete the 7.5-month study, you will receive a $50 to complete the same procedure at that visit. If you complete the 12.5-month visit, you will receive $75 for the same procedure at that visit. If you complete the 15-month study, you will receive a $100 Amazon gift card for a 30- to 45-minute visit where you fill out surveys while your child plays with an experimenter. That means if you complete all visits (which is our goal!) you will receive $275 in Amazon gift cards!

If you are a parent-to-be or a parent with a child younger than 4 months, please contact us at or by filling out our Contact Us form on the website Note we are still also recruiting older babies to participate in the above mentioned study at 7-8 months, so you can also contact us if your child is older than 4 months but younger than 8 months.

We look forward to having you in our lab!