My brother’s fraternity has a house dog named Ruby and she is a golden retriever mix. She is one of the cutest dogs I’ve ever seen (my dog at home is the cutest dog) and I always love petting her whenever I see her and think she is so cute! Then I started to wonder, I think most and if not all animals are cute, why do I think this? Why do I think a cat is cute but other people can look at the same cat and think it’s ugly? Is there a scientific reason behind it?
According to this, the answer lies under evolutionary biology. It is in our nature to find things cute. Konrad Lorenz, and Austrian scientist studied why we humans think things are cute. He came up with kinderschema which are the sets of traits we find cute and adorable. These traits are “large head relative to body size, rounded head; large, protruding forehead; large eyes relative to face, eyes below midline of head; rounded, protruding cheeks; rounded body shape; and soft, elastic body surfaces,” according to Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfedlt, the founder of human ethology. This gives more information on Lorenz and his studies.
Not only do we enjoy looking at cute little animals, but according to this article cute things bring out our aggression. This article talks about a study that was done where 109 participants looked at pictures of puppies and they agreed with the statement “I can’t handle it!” and also said that they felt like squeezing something. It was founded that the cuter the animal was the more aggressive the response. Rebecca Dyer, an alumni from Yale University, calls this phenomenon “cute aggression.” There was a second researchers conducted to see if the aggression was only verbally but not physical as well. People saw a slideshow of cute animals and popped 120 bubbles whereas seeing a slideshow that showed neutral pictures, only 80-100 bubbles were popped. Rebecca Dyer suggests we might have so much pent-up aggression over seeing something cute is because are immediate is response is to take care of it. That might be why if you see a cute puppy your first reaction is to want to grab and snuggle the puppy.
However, this site explains how looking at cute animal pictures can help you concentrate. A study was conducted at Hiroshima University in Japan. The experiment involved looking at certain pictures and then completing a concentration task which was finding a given number in a random sequence of numbers, or playing the game Operation. The pictures used were either pictures of food or pictures of puppies and kittens. After looking at cute baby animal pictures, performance in the Operation game increased by 44%, however, it also took 12% longer to complete the task. The numbers task also saw an 16% in accuracy.
The Picture on the right is my sister’s puppy, Sox. Do you feel like he is helping your concentration at all? Do you find him cute or have the urge to grab him?
Here is a video from a Youtuber Vsauce who talks about why we find animals cute in case you were more interested!