Yes, if you’ve felt guilty watching cute wallpapers of kittens or babies and thinking to yourself that you’ve wasted a lot of time then that’s about to change! According to a study called the ‘Power of Kawaii’, conducted by The Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University in Japan, viewing cute images promotes a careful behavior and narrows attentional focus.
Kawaii is a Japanese word meaning “cute”. Cute things are popular because they produce positive feelings. In this study, three experiments were conducted on 132 men and women aged between 18 to 22 years old and divided in 3 groups, to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance. Results showed that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images. This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing. Japan is known as the capital of ‘Kawaii’ so it’s only appropriate that the study took place over there. In particular, Japan’s culture accepts and appreciates childishness at the social level. Various kinds of anime and character goods, such as Pokémon and Hello Kitty, which are often described as Kawaii, are produced and exported to many countries. The study points out that; cute objects are characterized by ‘baby schema’, which is a set of features like a large head relative to body size, a high and protruding forehead, large eyes etc. the study assumes that responses to baby schema are innate and triggered by stimuli. In humans, these responses are deemed as cute, capture attention and bring a smile to the viewer’s face which in turn induce motivation and behavior for approach and care giving.
So for everyone who secretly hoped that this harmless looking at images of cute animals is not a complete waste of time here’s some reprieve and a bonus that it helps to improve concentration!!! And this news has spread quite fast as everyone gleefully embraced it as proof that trawling for LOLcats is a worthwhile pursuit after all. Do you have any baby animal images to share? Drop us a link in the comments…