Lauren Melella, Global Animal
Grumpy cat. Sneezing panda baby. The puppy cam. We are all guilty of watching these adorable animal videos—sometimes for hours on end. But did you know these same videos that often distract you in the office can actually help boost your job performance?
According to a new study released by Japanese researcher Hiroshi Nittono for Hiroshima University in Japan, looking at pictures and videos of cute animals throughout the workday can not only improve your mood, but also increase your productivity at work.
Scientists examined the effects of animals’ cuteness, also known as “kawaii,” on human behavior. In Japan, kawaii (think Hello Kitty and Pikachu) is a cultural phenomenon. Tests which were recently published in “The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attention Focus,” showed that an image of a cute, fluffy animal “not only improves fine motor skills but also increases perceptual carefulness.” These pictures could be used “to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”
For the study, Nittono studied a group of 48 students as they completed tasks similar to the game Operation. The students attempted the task three times; all of which had the students looking at a series of baby animals, adult animals, and food pictures.
The students who looked at the cute baby animals did far better at the game than peers who observed adult animals or food, outperforming their peers by a “significant margin,” according to Gawker.
Researchers involved in the experiment said, “Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior.” The reasoning behind these results may be related to childcare—a response evolved in humans to ensure that we treat babies with extra care.
And while there is certainly more work to be done to conclusively determine why cuteness affects our overall productivity, the findings from this research paint a comforting picture. Justification to browse our section of Cute Attack videos in the office? Absolutely.