Don’t you ever get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach every time you happen to lose your wallet or purse?
Never mind the cash. Your biggest concern is finding a way to recover your nowhere to be found credit cards, IDs, driver’s license, and family photos − most especially your precious family pictures!
There’s no need to fret or worry any longer. Now science has found a surefire way for you to increase your chances of recovering your lost wallet or purse − well, sort of…
A psychologist from the University of Hertfordshire in England did an experiment in 2009 by leaving a bunch of wallets on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland. Each of the wallets contained one of four photographs: a happy family, a cute puppy, an elderly couple, and a smiling baby.
The psychologist wanted to find out which of the lost wallets would be returned. The results were surprising, to say the least. An overwhelming 88% of the wallets containing the picture of the smiling baby were returned, surpassing all the other photos by a wide margin!
He then came to the conclusion that the photo of a smiling baby most likely evoked a caring feeling in people. It’s an innate nurturing instinct that compels adults to protect vulnerable infants to safeguard and ensure the survival of future generations.
Other studies have supported this finding. In the same year this study was done, another researcher at the University of Muenster in Germany flashed pictures of newborns to a group of childless women while they underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Using a special image-editing software, the researcher manipulated the pictures so that some of the infant’s faces had higher “baby schema” values (such as large, round eyes; round, chubby face) while some of the pictures had lower values (smaller eyes; narrower face).
The findings were quite surprising even for the researcher. Results showed that the pictures with higher baby schema values initiated an increase an increase in the subject’s brain activity.
Charles Darwin, the father of genetics, originally pointed out that there is something about infants which prompts adults to respond to and care for them, in order to increase individual fitness such as reproductive success, via increased survivorship of one’s own offspring.
In a related development, Konrad Lorenz, a renowned Austrian zoologist who made groundbreaking research on animal behavior and later on shifted his focus on man and society, proposed that it is the specific structure of the infant face that serves to elicit these parental responses, but the biological basis for this phenomenon remains elusive.
It was researchers at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom who uncovered evidence in humans of a potential brain basis for the “innate releasing mechanisms” earlier described by Lorenz for affection and nurturing of young infants. This has potentially important clinical applications in relation to postnatal depression and could provide opportunities for early identification of families at risk.
Meantime, another researcher at the Leibnitz Institute for Neurobiology in Germany compared amygdala responses to infants and adults crying and he discovered something uncanny. There was a 900% increase in responses for a baby’s crying.
More research is being done to take things one step further. The results showed that, although a baby’s vocalizations increase amygdala activation, it is the sudden and unexpected changes in pitch in a baby’s crying that convey the most emotions among the research subjects.
So the next time you want your wallet or purse returned to you each time you lose it, it’ll help if you put a photo of a cute, cuddly, and smiling face of a baby on your wallet or purse.