Looking at pictures of cute baby animals like kittens and puppies could actually boost job performance, according to a new study.
For the study, Hiroshima University researchers asked 132 participants to complete two rounds of tasks requiring either a fast reaction time, fine motor skills, or counting and concentration skills.
After the first round, each participant viewed a set of photos – either puppies and kittens, adult dogs and cats, or images of food – before returning to the original task.
The performance of participants who viewed the pictures of baby animals improved by as much as 44 percent in the second round, versus virtually no improvement among those who looked at the other photos.
Wondering why? Researcher Hiroshi Nittono explained: “The feeling of cuteness is a positive emotion that is associated with the action tendency of approach and systematic processing. When we see a cute thing, we are motivated to get closer to it and know its details.” Apparently this focused attention can remain even after we stop looking at the images.
And just in case you were wondering, researchers defined “cute” as “a set of features that are commonly seen in young animals: a large head relative to body size, a high and protruding forehead, large eyes, and so forth.”
For more information, check out the full study report – The Power of Kawaii: Viewing Cute Images Promotes a Careful Behavior and Narrows Attentional Focus.
If you’re caught at work awwing at cute animal photos or videos, just tell your manager you’re doing it to boost your productivity!
Image Credit: netzanette/Flickr