FACT: Looking At Cute Animals On The Internet Improves Work Performance

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In most places of business, if your boss catches you wasting time looking at LOLCATS on the internet, you’d get in trouble. Luckily I work in an office where my boss regularly posts links to kitten cams so I don’t need to worry but the next time you get in trouble, offer up some new exciting evidence. Studies have shown that looking at baby animals while you work actually improves work performance. Yeah, I’m pretty shocked too. 

The study comes from Hiroshima University in Japan. And yes, the internet finds the source extra amusing considering their love for all things kawaii.

LiveScience writes, “From the characters of Hello Kitty and Pokémon’s Pikachu, cute creatures stir positive feelings, researchers say, because they resemble babies with their big eyes and large heads. Seeing baby faces is known to trigger care-giving impulses in humans, and some research has even suggested cute images may encourage friendliness.”

But the study suggests this can have an impact on tasks that require focus and concentration. So what exactly did researchers do to figure this out?

In the first part of the experiment, 48 college students were asked to complete a game not unlike Milton Bradley’s “Operation.” Using tweezers, they had to pluck out 14 tiny pieces from holes in the body of a “patient.” After one round of the game, half of the students looked at seven images of baby animals (considered the cute images) while the others viewed pictures of adult animals.

Then the participants tried their hand at the operation task again. The students who had just looked at the baby animal pictures were able to pluck out more of the game pieces than they had before, while the others hardly improved their performance.

Man, I never get asked to take part in awesome studies. Anway, the researchers did another experiment which involved numbers instead of the game and results were the same. Their thought is, much like how we slow our speech when speaking to babies, we slow down and pay more attention to other tasks after viewing baby animals. This could benefit many occupations they say, from drivers to office workers.

“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.”

(via LiveScience)

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Jill Pantozzi
Jill Pantozzi is a pop-culture journalist and host who writes about all things nerdy and beyond! She’s Editor in Chief of the geek girl culture site The Mary Sue (Abrams Media Network), and hosts her own blog “Has Boobs, Reads Comics” (TheNerdyBird.com). She co-hosts the Crazy Sexy Geeks podcast along with superhero historian Alan Kistler, contributed to a book of essays titled “Chicks Read Comics,” (Mad Norwegian Press) and had her first comic book story in the IDW anthology, “Womanthology.” In 2012, she was featured on National Geographic’s "Comic Store Heroes," a documentary on the lives of comic book fans and the following year she was one of many Batman fans profiled in the documentary, "Legends of the Knight."