The power of cute: How looking at pictures of baby animals can help improve your concentration levelsJapanese research shows that looking at pictures of cute animals can help improve your work performance and powers of concentrationIn the future cute objectscould be used to help improve behavior when driving or working as driving
| UPDATED:08:55 GMT, 1 October 2012
One thing the internet has shown us, it is that few people can resist looking at images of cuteanimals.
Now new research has revealed that looking at cute images ofbaby animals doesn’t just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but can actually improveyour work performance and help you concentrate.
The study comes from researchers at Hiroshima University. InJapanese, the word ‘kawaii’ means cute and so the report is rather appropriatelyentitled ‘Power of Kawaii’.
Concentrate: Cute images of baby animals don’t just make you feel warm and fuzzy but can actually improve your work performance
Through three separate experiments a team of scientists foundthat people showed higher levels of concentration being shown pictures ofpuppies or kittens.
About 132 university students were divided up into threegroups, report the Wall Street Journal. Each group was assigned a different task. The first two had the mostcompelling results. The first was a version of the game Operation whereparticipants had to carefully pick up small objects from a hole withoutbrushing the sides.
But to also determine whether the power of cute extendsbeyond care-related tasks irrelevant to helping others, another task was purelyabout numbers.
The second group was asked to find a given number from arandom sequence of numbers within a certain time limit. In both, they performedthe given tasks twice – before and after looking at seven pictures of eitherpuppies and kittens or adult versions.
In the number experiment, one subset of subjects was givenfood images like steak, pasta and sushi to see whether “pleasant” imageselicited similar effects as cute ones.
Just look at their faces: In the future cute images could be used to help improve behavior when driving or working
The subjects were told the pictures, which were viewedduring a “break” in the tasks, were for a separate experiment.
In the Operation experiment, the participants who were shownimages of puppies and kittens performed their tasks better after the break thanthose who looked at cats and dogs. Performance scores improved by 44%. Theyalso took their time. The time it took to complete the task increased by 12%.
“This finding suggests that viewing cute images makesparticipants behave more deliberately and perform tasks with greater time andcare,” said the researchers, according to the published paper.
Similar jumps in performance were seen in the numbersexperiment, suggesting that looking at cute images increases attentiveness evenwhen the task at hand is unlikely to raise feelings of empathy.
Feeling good: “Kawaii” or cute things not only make us happier, but also improve our behavior
The group that saw kitten and puppies were more accurate,improving their scores by about 16%. They were also faster, increasing thenumber of random numerical sequences they got through by about 13%. There wasno change among groups that saw cats and dogs, and food images.
“Kawaii things not only make us happier, but alsoaffect our behavior,” wrote the researchers, led by cognitive psychologistHiroshi Nittono. “This study shows that viewing cute things improvessubsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possiblyby narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”
The study’s authors write that in the future cute objectscould be used as a way to trigger emotions “to induce careful behavioraltendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”