Lorenz’s classic ‘baby schema’: a useful biological concept?

Kawaguchi, Y. ORCID: 0000-0002-6682-4964 and Waller, B.M. ORCID: 0000-0001-6303-7458, 2024. Lorenz’s classic ‘baby schema’: a useful biological concept? Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 291 (2025). ISSN 0962-8452

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Konrad Lorenz introduced the concept of a ‘baby schema’, suggesting that infants have specific physical features, such as a relatively large head, large eyes and protruding cheeks, which function as an innate releaser to promote caretaking motivation from perceivers. Over the years, a large body of research has been conducted on the baby schema. However, there are two critical problems underpinning the current literature. First, the term ‘baby schema’ lacks consistency among researchers. Some researchers use the term baby schema to refer to infant stimuli (often faces) in comparison with adults (categorical usage), while others use the term to refer to the extent that features contribute to cuteness perception (spectrum usage). Second, cross-species continuity of the ‘baby schema’ has been assumed despite few empirical demonstrations. The evolutionary and comparative relevance of the concept is, therefore, debatable, and we cannot exclude the possibility that extreme sensitivity to the baby schema is a uniquely human trait. This article critically reviews the state of the existing literature and evaluates the significance of the baby schema from an evolutionary perspective.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Creators: Kawaguchi, Y. and Waller, B.M.
Publisher: The Royal Society
Date: June 2024
Volume: 291
Number: 2025
ISSN: 0962-8452
38889779PubMed ID
Rights: © 2024 the authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 19 Jun 2024 10:35
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 10:37
URI: https://irep.ntu.ac.uk/id/eprint/51599

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