Cooing over cute animals can have positive effects on productivity, study finds.
The Japanese researchers behind the study, which was published Sept. 26, dubbed the effect "The Power of Kawaii." "Kawaii" means "cute" in Japanese.
The results determined images of puppies and kittens improved task performance more than images of dogs and cats. The subjects, 132 Hiroshima University students, were shown the different images then required to perform a series of tasks.
The experiments involved three groups of participants playing a Japanese version of Operation, a task involving finding a certain number in a set of data, and a reaction time test. Both men and women were included in each group to eliminate gender differences.
"Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images," the article states. "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."
According to experiment, the increased attention span of 12% and performance scores of 44% proved cuter animals help more than adult ones.
Though the "Power of Kawaii" experiment was based on a 2009 study by three researchers that found viewing cute images increases behavioral carefulness, the "Kawaii" study concluded the "effect of cuteness goes beyond the tasks that suggest social interaction," according to the published paper.