In the best news yet for viral cat videos and pictures of babies hugging puppies, researchers at Japan’s Hiroshima University found that people actually focus better shortly after they’ve been shown “cute” images.
Researchers performed three experiments where they showed subjects a variety of images that included food, people, and adult and baby animals.
In a fine-motor dexterity test, 48 subjects (all between the ages of 18-and 22 and all right handed) played a children’s game very much akin to “Operation.” For those unfamiliar with the game, you use tweezers to remove plastic body parts from metal-encased “cavities” without touching the edges and setting off a buzzer.
Subjects played the games multiple times and, before at least one session, researchers showed them images of puppies and kittens.
Those images, according to the study, helped them play the game 44% better. Full grown dog and cat images also had a positive effect on performance, but not by as wide a margin: just 5%.
Cute images, however, may not only effect motor abilities, but have a positive cognitive effect, as well.
In another experiment, a new group of 18-to-20 year olds performed a series of visual search tasks where they had to identify text and numbers in images and images comprised of text and numbers. They, too, were shown cute images in between tasks. The results weren’t as dramatic, but their ability to properly identify the images did improve by 2%.
Now before you spend the rest of the day staring at pictures of babies tickling puppies, keep in mind that all of these results had a plus or minus deviation of up to 10%.
That did not deter the Japanese researchers who say in their report: “For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”
So, what do you say? Let’s all try own little experiment: Try driving, surgery (only if you’re a doctor), archery, target shooting, threading a needle…you get the idea…then look through this adorable gallery and do it all again.
Let us know in the comments how you performed.