Home
Donate Sign up for e-network
CENTER for BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY Because life is good
ABOUT ACTION PROGRAMS SPECIES NEWSROOM PUBLICATIONS SUPPORT

Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player

Find out more from the
Center for Biological Diversity:
Species
Forbes, September 29, 2012

Want To Be More Focused? Look At Pictures Of Cute Baby Animals

By Alex Knapp

Looking at pictures of cute baby animals is something of an obsession for those who spend long periods of time on the internet. But while that might seem like procrastination to the outside observer, some interesting research has come to light that indicates that looking at pictures of baby animals could actually improve your concentration and focus. At least, that’s the suggestion of a recent paper published in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Hiroshima in Japan.

The Japanese researchers were building on previous findings, which showed that people who looked at cute pictures of animals were able to focus on fine motor skill tasks like playing the board game Operation better than people who hadn’t. The scientists who performed the earlier study suggested that looking at something cute would cause people to behave more carefully – a natural response intended to make sure people handled babies safely.

In order to study this effect more carefully, the Japanese researchers performed three experiments. In the first, they replicated the earlier experiment by having participants play a Japanese game similar to Operation. In the second, they were asked to perform a visual search using number matrices. This search had nothing to do with caregiving or fine motor skills. In the third experiment, the participants were given a test designed to see how focused they were.

In all three experiments, people who looked at pictures of cute baby animals outperformed people who looked at pictures of adult animals and people who looked at neutral objects. This led the researchers to conclude that the earlier findings had been replicated. What’s more, “viewing cute images has a positive effect on behavioral performance in tasks that require carefulness. The effect occurred not only in the motor domain but also in the perceptual domain.”

Of course, there are still some limitations to the study – it’d be interesting to see more replication with larger groups of people. That said, given this and other studies of cuteness, I think it’s fair to at lease provisionally conclude, as the researchers do, that “[c]ute features not only make objects more user friendly and approachable, but also induce careful behavioral tendencies in the users, which is beneficial in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”

In other words, if you need to concentrate on an upcoming task, it’s best to have some pictures of puppies handy.

Copyright © 2012 Forbes.com, LLC.

This article originally appeared here.

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton