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The power of cute: How looking at pictures of baby animals can help improve your concentration levels
Japanese research shows that looking at pictures of cute animals can help improve your work performance and powers of concentration
In the future cute objects could be used to help improve behavior when driving or working as driving
One thing the internet has shown us, it is that few people can resist looking at images of cute animals.
Now new research has revealed that looking at cute images of baby animals doesn’t just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but can actually improve your work performance and help you concentrate.
The study comes from researchers at Hiroshima University. In Japanese, the word ‘kawaii’ means cute and so the report is rather appropriately entitled ‘Power of Kawaii’.
Through three separate experiments a team of scientists found that people showed higher levels of concentration being shown pictures of puppies or kittens.
About 132 university students were divided up into three groups, report the Wall Street Journal. Each group was assigned a different task. The first two had the most compelling results. The first was a version of the game Operation where participants had to carefully pick up small objects from a hole without brushing the sides.
But to also determine whether the power of cute extends beyond care-related tasks irrelevant to helping others, another task was purely about numbers.
The second group was asked to find a given number from a random sequence of numbers within a certain time limit. In both, they performed the given tasks twice – before and after looking at seven pictures of either puppies and kittens or adult versions.
In the number experiment, one subset of subjects was given food images like steak, pasta and sushi to see whether 'pleasant' images elicited similar effects as cute ones.
The subjects were told the pictures, which were viewed during a 'break' in the tasks, were for a separate experiment.
In the Operation experiment, the participants who were shown images of puppies and kittens performed their tasks better after the break than those who looked at cats and dogs. Performance scores improved by 44%. They also took their time. The time it took to complete the task increased by 12%.
'This finding suggests that viewing cute images makes participants behave more deliberately and perform tasks with greater time and care,' said the researchers, according to the published paper.
Similar jumps in performance were seen in the numbers experiment, suggesting that looking at cute images increases attentiveness even when the task at hand is unlikely to raise feelings of empathy.
The group that saw kitten and puppies were more accurate, improving their scores by about 16%. They were also faster, increasing the number of random numerical sequences they got through by about 13%. There was no change among groups that saw cats and dogs, and food images.
'Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior,' wrote the researchers, led by cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono. 'This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.'
The study’s authors write that in the future cute objects could be used as a way to trigger emotions 'to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.'