The Power of Cute

Cute Dog

Story at-a-glance -

  • Researchers in Japan have discovered that looking at pictures of cute animals at work can actually focus your attention and improve your performance.
  • In several experiments, study participants who looked at images of cute baby animals performed better at tasks than they had before they viewed the pictures. They also performed better than groups that viewed pictures of adult animals and mouthwatering food.
  • The difference seems to be an increase in the ability to focus. For some reason, looking at images of cute baby animals enhances our ability to concentrate, ignoring distractions.

By Dr. Becker

I have good news!

Now if your boss catches you watching our cute pet videos instead of working, you can tell him or her that on the contrary, you’re actually taking a few moments to enhance your on-the-job performance!

According to a recent study from researchers in Japan, looking at cute animals at work can fine-tune your focus and improve your attention to detail, thanks to the power of Kawaii. Kawaii is the Japanese word for “cute,” and cute things are attractive because they produce positive feelings.

According to LiveScience:

“Seeing baby faces is known to trigger care-giving impulses in humans, and some research has even suggested cute images may encourage friendliness. In the new study out of Hiroshima University, published online this week in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers show that these impulses can transfer outside of baby care and social situations to tasks that require narrow focus and concentration.”

Experiment #1

For the experiment, 48 college students participated in a game similar to “Operation” by Milton Bradley. The students used tweezers to pluck out several tiny game pieces from holes in the body of the “patient.”

After round one, half the students were given pictures of cute baby animals to look at, while the other half looked at images of adult animals.

During round two of the game, the students who looked at the cute pictures were able to remove more of the game pieces than they had in round one. However, the students who viewed the adult animals showed no significant improvement in their performance.

The Results…

The researchers theorized that since humans are known to slow their speech when talking to babies, perhaps viewing the cute animal pictures had a similar effect, encouraging the students to slow down and improve their accuracy and performance at the game.

The researchers also speculated the same students experienced nurturing feelings from viewing the baby animals, which could also improve their performance in a care-related task like doing “surgery” on a “patient.”

(For the record, my opinion is the researchers’ conclusions are a bit of a stretch. Harmless … but a bit of a stretch!)

Experiment #2

The researchers then repeated the experiment with 48 new students and a few tweaks to the process.

The participants were separated into three groups this time. Group one viewed the baby animal pictures as before, group two viewed pictures of adult animals, and group three looked at images of delicious food items.

Instead of playing the board game, the students were shown clusters of numbers and instructed to figure out how many times a certain number appeared. They had to provide as many accurate answers as possible in three minutes’ time.

Even with the changes, the findings were very similar to the results of the first experiment. The students who viewed the cute animal pictures performed better in round two of the numbers challenge, while the other two groups did not significantly improve.

According to the researchers, the key to good performance in this task and a third experiment they conducted was the ability to focus in on a specific element of an exercise. Viewing images of cute baby animals seems to increase our ability to concentrate.

So if you’re at work right now (and even if you’re not), sit back and enjoy …