Go ahead and bookmark this article for future reference guys, because you’re going to be thanking me the next time your boss, teacher, or partner catches you looking through yet another gallery of adorable animal photos.
Did you know that science says it’s actually good for you to spend plenty of time looking at cute animal photos and videos online?
It’s true, I swear! I’m going to tell you why and even link you to some studies to prove it! You may or may not be able to convince your boss that you’re slacking off for the good of the company, but, I mean … science is on your side here.
You may not be able to convince your boss that you’re watching cute animal videos for the good of the company, but science is on your side here.
Looking at Cute Animals Makes Us More Productive
In 2012, a Japanese study aptly named The Power of Kawaii (the Japanese word for “cute”), researchers discovered that those good feelings that we get from seeing cute things like fluffy baby animals can actually translate into better work performance.
The catch here is that the images or videos have to be really cute. I’m talking fuzzy puppies, roly-poly kittens, and fat, waddly baby pandas-level cute. Regular ol’ grown-up dogs, cats, and elephants won’t cut it here.
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The study showed that after viewing images of cute baby animals, participants were able to perform a task that required serious concentration (playing a game similar to Operation) faster and with better results than people who looked at pictures of adult animals or delicious food.
Basically, the cuteness factor of these pictures triggers caregiver instincts that make us more focused, alert, and detail-oriented. Nice.
Cute Animals Can Make You Like Your Partner More
When I first read about this study, I laughed so hard I cried, but it’s real and it works!
Who knew that keeping The Magical Spark™ of passion alive in your marriage could be as easy as looking at baby bunnies and fluffy puppies for a few weeks?
The researchers took 144 married couples and attempted to “retrain” their thoughts about their partners in an effort to increase marital satisfaction. The experimental group had their partners’ faces paired with images of cute animals, and the control group had their partners’ faces paired with neutral, pleasant images (fields, trees, etc.).
After six weeks, the people who had their partners associated with cute animals not only felt more positively about the other person, but reported feeling happier and more satisfied in their marriages overall.
The people who had their partners associated with cute animals reported feeling more positively about them and happier in their marriages.
Now obviously this doesn’t replace therapy or working on your relationship otherwise, but next time you’re on your period and your partner is really just getting on your very last nerve, maybe try looking at happy pictures of you two along with some cute animals. And maybe eat some peanut butter. That always helps me.
Spending Time Looking at Cute Animals Lowers Your Stress
We’re going to revisit the Japanese concept of “kawaii” for just a minute here. It means “cute” like I said before, but it’s specifically a simple, sugary, wholesome kind of cute (think Hello Kitty and Hamtaro).
Viewing these kinds of cute things (baby animal pictures and videos included) triggers small doses of dopamine and oxytocin in our brains. Dopamine is known as the “reward” chemical, and it makes us feel good whenever it’s triggered. Oxytocin is sometimes called the “cuddle hormone” or the “love molecule” because it gives us those warm, fuzzy, snuggly feelings we get when we’re hugged by someone we love, or when we get to hold a fluffy animal.
Triggering dopamine and oxytocin production in our brains lowers stress levels and improves our overall mood as well.
Viewing cute animal pictures and videos triggers small doses of “reward” and “love” chemicals in our brains, lowering stress levels and improving mood.
“It’s Not Medicine, But It Heals You”
Seattle-based researcher Joshua Dale is a sort of “kawaii guru” who has spent years studying the effects that cuteness can have on us. He says, “it’s not a real medicine, but it can make you feel better because it releases [dopamine and oxytocin] in the brain.” And if it makes you feel better, then it’s definitely worth doing!
Basically, he says, looking at cute animals heals you.
So next time you fall down the adorable rabbit hole of baby animal photos and videos, don’t feel guilty. Science says you probably needed it.