Viewing Photos of Kittens and Puppies Improves Attentiveness and Focus


A new study suggests that viewing pictures of cute baby animals improves our ability to perform focused tasks.





Most of the columns that I write for this blog deal with very serious health-related research studies.  This week, however, I will be discussing a somewhat more whimsical research study, compared to most of my prior columns.  This study from Japan appears in the current issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLOS) One.

We all know that a young child, a kitten, or a puppy can evoke feelings of adoration and happiness.  Now, a newly published research study from Hiroshima, Japan, suggests that the positive feelings that arise when we see baby animals, or some other “cute thing,” may have a potentially greater impact on our behavior than has previously been appreciated.

In this innovative prospective study, several separate experiments were conducted using photos of cute little baby animals (kittens and puppies) and less cute adult animals (cats and dogs), as well as photos of “neutral” objects not associated with being “cute.”

In the first experiment, university student volunteers were asked to perform a task requiring significant manual dexterity after viewing photos of, variously, cute baby animals and (not so cute) adult animals.  In this experiment, viewing photos of cute baby animals increased the successful performance of the assigned task by 44 percent, as compared to only a 12 percent improvement in performance among the students who performed the same task after viewing photos of adult animals.

In the second experiment, the participating college students were asked to perform a visual search task after looking at the cute and not so cute animal photos.  Once again, task-related performance significantly improved after looking at the pictures of kittens and puppies (16 percent), compared to the degree of improvement that was noted after viewing photos of adult cats and dogs (1 percent).

When the researchers analyzed the data from this study, they determined that looking at photos of cute little kittens and puppies significantly improved attentiveness to focused tasks such as those performed in this study.  Based upon the findings of this study and previous similar research studies, the authors of this study propose that a “cuteness-triggered positive emotion” is associated with increased motivation to complete assigned tasks, as well as improved processing of information associated with performing manual and visual tasks (as was demonstrated in this new research study).  They further suggest that intentional exposure to “cute objects” might be helpful in stimulating positive behaviors in both the workplace and at home, particularly when tasks requiring careful attention are being performed.



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Dr. Wascher’s latest video:

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

Dark as Night, Part 1

At this time, more than 8 percent of Americans are unemployed.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, however, the unemployment rate for veterans who served on active duty between September 2001 and December 2011 is now more than 12 percent.  A new website, Veterans in Healthcare, seeks to connect veterans with potential employers.  If you are a veteran who works in the healthcare field, or if you are an employer who is looking for physicians, advanced practice professionals, nurses, corpsmen/medics, or other healthcare professionals, then please take a look at Veterans in Healthcare. As a retired veteran of the U.S. Army, I would also like to personally urge you to hire a veteran whenever possible.

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Disclaimer:  As always, my advice to readers is to seek the advice of your physician before making any significant changes in medications, diet, or level of physical activity


Dr. Wascher is an oncologic surgeon, professor of surgery, cancer researcher, oncology consultant, and a widely published author


I and the staff of Weekly Health Update would again like to take this opportunity to thank the more than 100,000 health-conscious people from around the world who visit this premier global health information website every month.  (More than 1.3 million pages of high-quality medical research findings were served to the worldwide audience of health-conscious people who visited Weekly Health Update in 2011!)  As always, we enjoy receiving your stimulating feedback and questions, and I will continue to try and personally answer as many of your inquiries as I possibly can.


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