October 7, 2012 by Robert Wascher
Filed under A Cancer Prevention Guide for the Human Race, Attentiveness, Carefulness, Cats, Children, Cute Photos, Cuteness, Focus, Kids, Kittens, Puppies, Rewards, Toddlers, Weekly Health Update, cognitive function, dogs, performance
A new study suggests that viewing pictures of cute baby animals improves our ability to perform focused tasks.
VIEWING PHOTOS OF KITTENS AND PUPPIES IMPROVES ATTENTIVENESS AND FOCUS
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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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
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