Cute Animals May Make Us Work Better

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Japanese researchers have found pictures of kittens and puppies make people more careful and efficient at certain tasks.

Ever slack off on the job and look at dancing otters,  sneezing pandas, or zoo kittens? According to a new study, those images might actually make you more coordinated and careful – and thus better at certain kinds of tasks. Forbes reported over the weekend on a new research paper published in the academic journal PLOS ONE…

The Japanese researchers were building on previous findings, which showed that people who looked at cute pictures of animals were able to focus on fine motor skill tasks like playing the board game Operation better than people who hadn’t. The scientists who performed the earlier study suggested that looking at something cute would cause people to behave more carefully – a natural response intended to make sure people handled babies safely.

To expand on that study, the researchers first repeated it, then added two other experiments: a visual task sort of like a word search except with numbers, and a reaction task where people had to instantly respond to what letter they saw flash on a screen.

Pictures of both baby and adult animals produced more careful responses, but babies produced a bigger effect. The researchers concluded: “Cute features not only make objects more user friendly and approachable, but also induce careful behavioral tendencies in the users, which is beneficial in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”

Stacy Johnson

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