Remember that scene in Three Men and a Baby, when Tom Selleck's character is reading an article about boxing to the little baby? Steve Gutenberg is horrified, but Tom says that it doesn't matter what the words are, just the tone matters. Well, a new study in Infant Behavioral Development shows that the tone does indeed matter. CD Tsang and NJ Conrad of the University of Western Ontario did a study on infants' pitch preferences in lullabies and and playsongs. The babies preferred low-pitched lullabies and high-pitched playsongs, showing that tone is indeed the most important communication of emotion. Tom. Selleck. is. a. genius.
CD Tsang and NJ Conrad, "Does the message matter? The Effect of song type on infants' pitch preferences for lullabies and playsongs," Infant Behavioral Development, Dec 2009.