The City Infant Faces Database: A validated set of infant facial expressions

Abstract

Adults need to be able to process infants' emotional expressions accurately to respond appropriately and care for infants. However, research on processing of the emotional expressions of infant faces is hampered by the lack of validated stimuli. Although many sets of photographs of adult faces are available to researchers, there are no corresponding sets of photographs of infant faces. We therefore developed and validated a database of infant faces, which is available via e-mail request. Parents were recruited via social media and asked to send photographs of their infant (0-12 months of age) showing positive, negative, and neutral facial expressions. A total of 195 infant faces were obtained and validated. To validate the images, student midwives and nurses (n = 53) and members of the general public (n = 18) rated each image with respect to its facial expression, intensity of expression, clarity of expression, genuineness of expression, and valence. On the basis of these ratings, a total of 154 images with rating agreements of at least 75% were included in the final database. These comprise 60 photographs of positive infant faces, 54 photographs of negative infant faces, and 40 photographs of neutral infant faces. The images have high criterion validity and good test-retest reliability. This database is therefore a useful and valid tool for researchers.

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