The science behind cat videos

Anyone who spends a lot of time on the internet will probably know that the entire internet population is obsessed with cats. Cat memes, cat videos, cat pictures, cat animations the list ‘goes ever ever on.’ Of course this does bring up the question, why cats? Out of all the cute (or stupid depending on the video you watch) animals out there why is the internet so fixated on cats? I mean why not dogs? Or rabbits? Have you seen baby rabbits? They’re friggin’ adorable. But that is a discussion for another day. In any case the internet is infested with cats and I will admit that when I’ve had a particularly stressful day I often find myself going on YouTube and watching videos of kittens being adorable, like this one.

Look at those cute little furry fuzzballs, they’re so fluffy and squishy, argh I just can’t stand it. Anyway I watch the cute kittens and I start to feel a little better. But here’s a question, why is that? Why is it that when we see something really cute like cats or kittens, we start to forget our troubles and feel better? Let’s look into that.

According to an article by Huffington post titled “Looking at Cute Animal Pictures at Work Can Make You More Productive, Study Claims” (pretty descriptive title huh).

A Japanese researcher named Hiroshi Nittono lead a study for Hiroshima University where he found that by looking at cute pictures of baby animals you do not just improve your mood but your level of productivity as well. Nottono published his findings online in the journal PlosOne calling it, “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus,”. For those of you who don’t know the word “Kawaii” is Japanese for cute, which kind of fits considering what was being studied.

Basically Nittono and his colleagues asked three groups of students to perform certain tasks twice, once without viewing any images and the next time after taking a “break” and viewing a series of images, which included baby animals, adult animals, or other thimgs like food. The study showed that the group of students who viewed the cute pictures of the baby animals did much better at the second attempt of tasks as compared to their peers who viewed other pictures. It might have something to do with the nurturing instincts awakened within most of us when we see cute babies.

The study stated, “If viewing cute things makes the viewer more attentive, the performance of a non-motor perceptual task would also be improved.”

Of course other studies have shown that short breaks of all kinds help people stay more focused and productive. However this particular study seems to prove that cute things help you out more than others. Now I would like to point out that while this study does seem to prove that looking at cute things can help change your state of mind and uplift your overall mood, in the end whether you believe it or not is entirely up to you. I’m not trying to force anything on to you; I’m just stating the facts as I find them. There is of course the chance that I am completely wrong, so keep that in mind.

As for why is it that the internet decided to choose cats over every other animal out there? Well like I said before that is a discussion for another time.

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