In 2012, researchers at Cornell University prepared a test for 200 children ages 8 to 11. They were presented with the option of having a cookie or an apple as a snack during a school lunch period. Most children chose the cookie.
Then, researchers conducted a second trial. Elmo from Sesame Street .
Kids in the first group of apples at a rate of 20 percent. The apple at the rate of 40 percent.
It's clear that Elmo-the red-furred, hyper, inquisitive Muppet-strikes a chord with kids. Youngsters crying out to do what they say on the screen, gripped in a child of hypnosis. Tickle Me Elmo was one of the toy industry's biggest success stories, causing long lines when it debuted in 1
But for children under the age of 4, there's a bit more working in Elmo's favor than simply being cute. In many ways, he was engineered to resonate with this target audience, and child behavioral experts think they know why.
Visually, Elmo presents as a very atypical presence on camera. He's virtually the only red muppet in the show's cast of characters, which is relevant because he's a young man. (Brown, for example, to babies with babies.)
a gentle vocal rhythm that kids. "Once you've got a kid's attention, he manages to keep it in a unique cadence associate with the authority, warmth, and calming effect of their guardians. By speaking in the third person ("Elmo likes you!"), The character thus becomes relatable:
"His speech style is' mother-ese '' Dr. Lauren Gardner, Administrative Director of the Autism Center at Johns Hopkins' All Children's Hospital, told CafeMom in 2018. "The high-pitched voice, dragged-out vowel sounds, and exaggerated inflection are all spoken to by caregivers in our culture. "
Initially, Elmo did not have much to say. Sesame Street in 1985, he was not the giggling, slightly mischievous Muppet that was fleshed out later. At first, producers at Sesame Workshop simply knew he would share many of the same traits as the toddlers watching him on television. He would be open-minded, curious about the world around him, and generally upbeat. By mimicking many of their attributes, he would capture their attention.
"[Elmo is] just like toddlers who are at an exploratory stage of life," Dr. Tovah Klein, director of the Center for Toddler Development at Barnard College, told Slate in 2013. Both children and Elmo are "like little scientists, trying out and exploring what is around them, delighting in it."
For some kids, Elmo speaks to them , he's far more likely to keep a child's attention than most children's characters, relatable in virtually all ways.