- BRW Lists
Published 13 March 2013 07:46, Updated 23 April 2013 10:32
What do you think about cute animal videos? Well, apparently, if you are in a job that requires you to be careful they are actually a performance enhancement tool.
I can’t think of a better reason to coo over a video like this one of a barn owl and a pussycat. Watch it, I dare you not to love it. Five million people have clicked onto the YouTube link and, probably, most of them were pretending to work at the time.
The silly smile on their faces as they watch kind of gives them away, though.
A study last year from Hiroshima University found that people who looked at pictures of cute baby animals outperformed those who did not.
The study was examining the effect of animal cuteness (kawaii) on human behaviour.
“This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioural carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus,” the researchers said.
An earlier study, in 2009, found that looking at something cute makes people be more careful and improves their dexterity.
The reason for this response is that we are programmed, in an evolutionary sense, to adore the look of our babies, with their round faces, big forward-facing eyes and pink pouty mouths.
This helps us take care of them and love them, even when they are driving us up the wall.
The instinct is so strong that it overflows to animals that have the same kind of baby-cuteness.
According to a report in The New York Times , new studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centres of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine.
It could be assumed that there would be gender differences in the way “cuteness” attracts, although, in Japan, where the above study took place, kawaii is beloved by both men and women.
In Australia, as one would have thought, men are far more cynical and, indeed, lips began to curl among my colleagues when I started talking about this article - until I played the owl and the pussycat video (see above) and my male and female pod-mates scooted their chairs over to my desk as they become totally engrossed in the two animals at play.
This is important to know because it means that, whether your boss is a man or a woman, it won’t hurt to send them a link to a cute video to help them become a more nurturing, happier person.
And, while you are thinking about that, have a weep over Christian the Lion who was raised by two Australians in London and sent to Africa when he got too big to take care of. The video shows the reunion between the two men and their former pet.
If you haven’t seen it yet, you must be one of the few in the world that hasn’t.