The latest study conducted by the scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison found a possible answer to the question that has been plaguing women for centuries: why are men not showing emotions as easily as women? The study found that frequent use of pacifiers in male babies and children prevents them to mimic facial expression of adults and copy them to express their own emotions. Girls are not affected.
In three separate studies, scientists interviewed children and adults about their use of pacifiers and conducted a series of tests, including basic intelligence test. They discovered that boys who reported frequent and long term use of pacifiers as babies were much less able to copy expressions of emotions they saw on the video shown as a part of the investigation. In addition, male college students who reported using pacifiers as babies had lower scores in the test of perspective taking, which is an important part of empathy.
Researchers believe that mimicry or copying of facial expression plays an important role in understanding how adults express emotions through facial expressions. Correct understanding of emotion through recognizing facial expressions is believed to ground emotional development. Pacifiers make children unable to copy facial expressions of their parents, and as a consequence to understand and respond to emotions.
Interestingly, what triggered the study is the lack of emotions shown by people who received botox injections. Frozen muscles are unable to respond to other people’s emotions and to react in an adequate way.
Boys are more sensitive
Boys seem to be much more affected by the pacifier use than girls. The reason for this is not entirely clear, but one possible reason is that girls make emotional progress before starting to use pacifier or in spite of it. Another possible explanation is that boys may be more vulnerable than girls, and that pacifier use affects them much more than girls.
Scientists theorize that it could be that parents unconsciously compensating for the use of pacifiers by girls by stimulating their emotions in other ways. On the other hand, they do not mind boys not showing any emotions, as it is expected from males. This is just a theory and scientists believe that this merits much more study. They are certainly right there.
Parents have been warned to limit the use of pacifiers after several studies found different consequences to babies’health, from causing lack of appetite and preventing babies from eating enough, to causing ear infections. This latest information is not being welcome. For so many parents, pacifiers are the only thing that is keeping them sane. Coping with a wailing baby day and night and then going to work can be seriously challenging to anyone”s mental and physical health. But, there are good news: scientists say that parents should limit the use of pacifiers during ‘learning times’, during the day. At night, when babies should be sleeping and not learning, it is OK to plug their mouths with pacifiers and get some well deserved sleep.