Now new research has revealed that looking at cute images of baby animals doesn’t just make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but can actually improve your work performance and help you concentrate.
The study comes from researchers at Hiroshima University. In Japanese, the word ‘kawaii’ means cute, and so the report is rather appropriately entitled ‘Power of Kawaii’.
In the Operation experiment, the participants who were shown images of puppies and kittens performed their tasks better after the break than those who looked at cats and dogs. Performance scores improved by 44%. They also took their time. The time it took to complete the task increased by 12%.
Similar jumps in performance were seen in the numbers experiment, suggesting that looking at cute images increases attentiveness even when the task at hand is unlikely to raise feelings of empathy.
The group that saw kitten and puppies were more accurate, improving their scores by about 16%. They were also faster, increasing the number of random numerical sequences they got through by about 13%. There was no change among groups that saw cats and dogs, and food images.
‘Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior,’ wrote the researchers, led by cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono. ‘This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.’
The study’s authors write that in the future cute objects could be used as a way to trigger emotions ‘to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.’