“They’re not just smiling randomly”, Javier Movellan, a study author and research scientist in the Machine Perception Laboratory at the University of California, said. Now, with the help of a toddler-like robot, researchers from the University of California-San Diego have shed light on why: babies time their smiles in order to gain one in return. The control theory data analysis found that 11 out of the 13 babies in the study showed clear signs of intentional smiling.
In an attempt to do so, the team used data from previous research that looked at face-to-face interactions between 13 mothers and their infants, who were ages 4-17 weeks. “(They) are very goal-oriented”.
“If you’ve ever interacted with babies, you suspect that they’re up to something…”
The study was a part of the National Science Foundation’s effort to use robots to better understand human development, allowing researchers to have a tool to study non-verbal children and adults, as well as those with autism.
Once the robot was programmed, 32 undergrad students interacted with it during a series of three-minute sessions.
A new multidisciplinary study has found that babies smile to get you to interact with them and smile back.
“Our methods are agnostic to this question”. And while moms may want to smile with their children, babies don’t participate for no reason at all – and no more than they need to.
In each interaction, Diego San displayed one of four different behaviors.
Using an extremely unnerving bot called Diego-San, they simulated a baby’s behavior in order to find the “why” behind the grin.
Paul Ruvolo at the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, and his team programmed the robot to produce smiles with the same timing as a 4-month-old infant.
Study co-author Dan Messinger from the University of Miami, received a grant to model babies’ responses to brief pauses in interaction based on the study’s data.
On statistically analyzing facts the researchers were able to conclude that probability goal for the mother was to maximize the smile time for both the mother and the infant (about 70%), while the infants were more likely to be trying to maximize mother-only smiling (about 80%).
“Here we find that infants have their own goals in the interaction, even before four months of age”, Messinger noted.