BREAKING: Looking at Adorable Animals Can Improve Concentration

Call in the Puppy Parade because the impossible is possible. Looking at the adorable, plump, squishy, coo-inspiring, bundles of sunshine that are cute animals is good for improving concentration according to a new study out of the Hiroshima University.

The paper details the “power of Kawaii,” the Japanese word for cute, which was established through three different experiments. The conclusion of each: people show higher levels of concentration after looking at pictures of kittens and puppies.

Researchers divided up 132 university students into multiple groups, each assigned a different task. One of the groups was given an Operation-like game where players must remove an object from a small opening without touching the edges. The second group was asked to identify a number within a random sequence during a designated amount of time. Each group performed their tast two times looking at either pictures of baby cats and dogs or adult versions between the trials. In the second experiment, subjects were also given “pleasant food” images like sushi, steak and pasta to see if they had a similar effect as adorable creatures. A third experiment involving reaction-time didn’t return any noticeable changes in behavior.

The result are downright astonishing. In the Operation-like experiment, those who were shown wittle puppies and kittens improved their performance by 44 percent compared to those who looked at boring old cats and dogs. Additionally, it took them 12 percent less time to complete the task.

The first experiment was targeted to generate a sense of empathy or required carefulness. The numbers experiment doesn’t incorporate any of that emotional backing. Yet, participants who saw kittens and puppies increased their scores by 16 percent. “Cute images are considered to induce positive affect with high approach motivation because they are evolutionally related to caregiving and nurturing or because they prime social engagement,” says the paper. This narrows attention even though the task itself isn’t associated with caregiving. The participants were also able to complete tasks up to 13 percent faster reflecting the findings of the first experiment.

Looking at cute things makes people more acutely aware of the tasks they are performing. “Viewing cute images improved performance on tasks that required carefulness. This effect was found in a fine motor dexterity task that was related to helping others (Experiment 1) and in a non-motor visual search task that was irrelevant to caregiving or social interaction (Experiment 2),” say the authors of the study.

If you’ve been holding out on decorating your workspace with puppy paraphernalia the move is completely justifiable now. Rest assured your wall calendar featuring “12 months of labrador love” was an investment in your productivity.


The Wall Street Journal
Original Study The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus

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