Attention Marketing
Idea Immunity and the Meme War

Preferential Looking


Studying baby psychology is inherently tricky. Since they can't talk, you can't ask them questions.

Harvard psychologist Elizabeth Spelke has been trying to understand how children develop knowledge and language and so had to find more ingenious ways to understand what's happening in their heads.

The experiments carried out at the Laboratory of Developmental Studies attempt to infer the cognitive abilities through the observation of "preferential looking":

the tendency of infants and children to peer longer at something that is new, surprising or different. [To steal from Scientific American]

This fact was discovered in the 50s by Robert Fantz, who demonstrated that children [and chimps] stare longer at things they perceive as unexpected.

Which suggests that spending more time looking at something new, original, unexpected is a hardwired reaction and perhaps helps to explain why original work is more effective - our brains force us to pay more attention to it.