Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Heather Bortfeld; Janet Barnes-Farrell

Field of Study



Master of Arts

Open Access

Open Access


Three experiments were conducted to investigate how changes in bodily states might be related to perceptions of infant vocalizations. In Study 1, participants were asked to hold a pencil between their lips, mimicking a smile, while listening to infant crying. Although there were no embodied effects for perceptual ratings, results indicated that this manipulation decreased participants’ self-reported, negative affect. In Study 2, participants were played both infant crying and birdsong while exposed to similar embodied manipulations, including activation of muscles related to approach and withdrawal behavior. There were no embodied effects for ratings of crying or for affect. Comparing Study 1 and 2, there was no change in affect with the addition of birdsong to infant crying. Finally, in Study 3, participants heard either infant laughter or infant crying while holding a pencil between their teeth or lips. Although the sound participants heard changed their affect ratings, there were no embodied effects on perception for laughter or crying. However, there were effects of embodiment on ratings of negative affect, for males, and in ratings of positive affect for female participants. Taken together, these results suggest that infant crying might be unique as a signal of negative affect and that its perception appears relatively impervious to manipulation via standard embodiment controls.

Major Advisor

James A. Green