Why Do We Find Things Cute?

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 human7030094-cute-animals 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 soxstudy 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!

5 thoughts on “Why Do We Find Things Cute?

  1. Sarah Rose Peterson

    I really liked your blog! I am a huge animal lover and I personally think that dogs and horses are very cute! I am always the one to go ask people if I can pet their dog. I had no idea cute things could bring out our aggression or that looking at cute things could help our concentration. To answer your question, I do not feel as though the puppy is helping my concentration, but I do find him really cute!

  2. Sara Grace Perlowitz

    Right when I read your first sentence, I knew it was an article that I had to keep reading. I used to have a golden retriever and her name was Ruby too! Reading these posts are so interesting because people write about things that I never even though about before. After reading your blog, I have a better understanding of why I think things are cute. I never thought about why I thought certain things were cute, but your blog was very informative!

  3. kbd5161

    This post was really interesting to read! I totally new about humans obsession with cute little animals, but I too never knew that cute animals were able to bring out our aggressive side. To answer your question, your sister’s puppy Sox did not really seem to help my concentration at all. However I do find him really cure and have the urge to grab him and snuggle him. However I think it would be interesting to do a study on what types of animals are the cutest to people, because I personally find dogs cute than cats, and I own 2 dogs. So, I wonder if there are any links to the type of animals we have in our home and which animals we find cute.

  4. Amy Rosenzweig

    I’ve always wondered why we find certain things cute as well, so I found your blog post really interesting. I had no idea that finding things cute was in our biology and that there were specific characteristics that humans take into consideration when seeing if they find that something is cute. The word cute and why we find things cute also made me think of why people think that old people are cute. I know it has nothing to do with animals and what not but I found that this could potentially relate to why we find things cute.

  5. Michael Bliss

    Very interesting and useful post! I would never have thought that cute animals actually make us aggressive, but it makes a lot of sense after reading your post. I also like how you described what “cute” means, how it affects us, and how it can be applied to our every day life. Good work!

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