By Elisa Black-Taylor
Today I have a question for everyone reading this article. Are you hooked on online cute cat photos? Or perhaps your interests sway more toward cute cat videos. No matter which you prefer, there are cute cat photos and videos everywhere you look on social media sites. Our favorite cat site here at PoC is no exception.
My Social Networking Of Cute Photos
Posting cute cat photos is also quite popular on our cat Facebook group page listed as Pictures-of-cats.org. I set up the Facebook group page over a year ago in an effort to help Michael (PoC) spread the word about the website here. My mission was to direct cat lovers back to this site so people would read the articles. After all, Michael DOES have the best cat articles available online concerning everything from cat health to funny cats. And lets not forget yours truly here (ME!) with her foot in mouth problem who tends to talk about everything…
Anyway, I thought I’d list some of the articles published PoC on the Facebook group page to broaden exposure. I still do this where I copy and paste the article link, along with a relevant photo. What happened instead came as a complete surprise to me. People started posting cute and funny photos of their own cats. Members of the group took Pictures-of-cats to mean “pictures of cats.” What we’ve accomplished on the Facebook group page is a large population of cat lovers (the group now has over 3000 members) who enjoy showing off their cats. Thanks to everyone in the group, we’re now one of the largest positive influence groups on Facebook.
Results Of Cute Animal Photos Study Conducted By Yale
I was driving home from work last week when my favorite talk show host told of a study done by Yale showing there’s a scientific reason we want to share the cuteness everywhere we can. According to the Yale study “our bodies are wired to lose control and become overwhelmed by our desire to share the cuteness.” Whenever we see a cute video or photo, this urge will override our inhibitions, leaving us helplessly compelled to share the cuteness with our friends. Or with strangers – as long as we share. Because we’ll go CRAZY if we can’t spread the cuteness to everyone we know. I believe this urge should also include the necessity to share cute baby photos online.
I did a bit of online research about Yale’s study on cuteness. One research project, led by psychology graduate student Rebecca Dyer, describes the phenomenon as “cuteness aggression.” Dyer stated “We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control.” In plain English, this means we want to squeeze cute things. To take care of them. The problem is, when we can’t physically touch the cuteness, we may become a bit aggressive.
The volunteers were told this would be a study of motor activity and memory. They were given bubble wrap and instructed beforehand to pop as many of the bubble wrap bubbles as they wished. The cute study popped more bubbles, with an average of 120. The funny slide show bubble wrap suffered less damage at 80 bubbles popped, and the neutral photos came in with just over 100 popped. The study concluded that the number of bubbles showed the amount of aggression displayed while watching the photos.
This topic was covered a few weeks back at the January 18 annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology seminar held in New Orleans. The original study was done by Yale using a test group of 109 subjects (one reference stated 90 subjects), who were led into a laboratory setting and asked to look at a slideshow of cute animal photos, funny animal photos and animals who didn’t necessarily fit into either category. With the information I’ve found, I’m unsure whether one study or two were conducted on the subject since the test control numbers differ. In either case, it turned out the cute animal photos got the most response out of the test subjects.
My Friends Are Hooked On Cute Photos
I’ve got a LOT of female friends who spend a lot of time posting cute cat and dog photos. What was really a surprise was finding the number of definitely masculine male friends who either share their own photos or love the ones we women share. No one is immune from this biological responsive that comes from looking at cuteness.
I have one friend on Facebook, Steve Riddle, who’s been a friend since back in 1974. We weren’t even in our teens when we became pen pals after we met at a family event(a funeral). Now I depend on him to brighten my day EVERY day with the photo of a cute animal, along with a fitting caption. If I don’t hear from him, I’m depressed and worry about what kind of day he’s having. Steve lives ten hours from me, so visiting isn’t an option.
I’ve been known to “borrow” photos I find of my friends cute cats on various networking sites. I always list who I obtained the image from. You have to be careful with copyright laws these days or you can be sued for stealing another’s work. Several stock card companies also have cute photos to sell for use with freelance articles. So there’s a money making opportunity connected with cute.
I Post Photos, But I Disagree With The Study Results
I love to post photos as often as I can because I believe they cheer people up when they see them. It’s nice to know I’m right, and Yale has done the research to back it up. I’m at odds with their conclusion. I don’t believe I show signs of aggression when I view the photos. The opposite is true with me. I tend to calm down when looking at photos of cute or funny animals. On the other hand, perhaps that’s a good excuse for my being a bit mouthy in some of my articles. Yeah, I think I’ll go with that! Cute photos may cause aggression. Giggles…
I’ve put together this special collage and invite the readers to conduct their own study. First, cover the right half of the collage on this page while you look at the photos on the left. Then vise versa.
The photos on the left are the “funny” photos. To start off with, I have Annabelle on a curtain rod. She was deaf, but she was a master climber. The middle photo is of Garfield and Cassie. Garfield refused to look at the camera, and apparently I was boring Cassie because she chose that moment to yawn. The bottom left is our FIV+ boy, Brinkley. This was him at Christmas after getting his tummy full of catnip treats. I thought the caption fitting.
The photos on the right fall into the “cute” category. The top right photo shows Pippa and Pinky, the YaYa (shelter name) kittens we rescued along with their mothers. We raised them in the master bath tub to keep them in one place. Pinky had the worst case of conjunctivitis Michael (PoC) had ever seen, and his illness is how we decided on his name. Not very original, but it worked at the time. We chose the tub to keep them in as clean an environment as possible. This photo was made the day Pippa “escaped” and coerced her brother/cousin into committing the crime with her. They were all over the bathroom after that. This has to be one of the very cutest photos I’ve ever made in my life. It would be difficult to out-do it.
The middle one is of Furby the day of his rescue on November 3, 2009. This photo has now won several cat contests. Furby’s latest prize was a $115 cat bed in December 2011. He’s a good sport and shares it with the other cats. Unfortunately, Furby is hard to get a good photo of these days. He’s mastered the sneaky cat expression and basically looks guilty all of the time. This is good for my making funny captioned photos, but he’s outgrown the cute phase. To hear Furby tell it, he prefers to look guilty all of the time to throw me off on when he really has done something wrong.
Annabelle, Garfield, Pinky and Pippa have since gone to their own families through various rescues and private adoptions.
I had to “close” this collage with a photo of our cat-dog Cujo. Cujo is now very popular on many social networking sites, as cat-dogs are a very rare breed. I’ve spoken with several cat-dog owners, who like me, have small dogs being raised as cats. Please don’t ever mention that D-O-G word around him:he may bite you! Cujo not only loves to play ambush, he also has been taught the ability to stalk and pounce, as well as to chase a cat toy on a string. Isn’t he adorable!? Doesn’t this photo just make you want to copy, paste and share? Go ahead! Please put www.furbyshouse.com in the bottom right corner in small letters so I get credit. It’s always a show of courtesy to acknowledge the photographer.
What Are Your Thoughts?
Do you suffer from share-the-cuteness syndrome like many of us on social networking sites? Personally, I tend to remember friends who post these cutie-pies more easily than those who just make comments or post photos of other subject matter. Do you believe the study was accurate and cute photos trigger aggression? Or are you as I am, and just want to spread the happy around and be the first one of your friends to post a really awesome photo?