Cute kitten pictures make you work better

Japanese Cuteness on Nippon Airlines
Japanese Cuteness on Nippon Airlines. Picture: Wikimedia Commons author, Arpingstone
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If you want to work in a more focused and therefore more productive manner, look at some cute kitten pictures beforehand. Cuteness creates a more positive mentality, which in turn allows the mind to become more focused. That seems to be the conclusion of a Japanese study.

The question I would ask is, “how long does the cuteness affect last for?” Do you have to keep topping up the brain with more cute kitten photos? And then, like a drug, does your brain become accustomed to them so you need more and more until…you’re a cuteness addict.

That’s meant to be a bit lighthearted but in Japan there does seem to be a cult of cuteness. I appears to me that there are lots of young girls who dress up in a very cute way etc. Is this why the Japanese are very good engineers? Are there pictures of cute kittens on the walls at Honda and Toyota?

Cute makes you work better
Cute makes you work better. Collage by Michael. I believe the picture is in the public domain.

The study published in summary form on the PlosOne website concluded that cute is popular because it makes you feel more positive. When participants in the study were asked to do tasks that required focus and attention they performed these tasks much better after viewing cute photos of kittens or puppies. Cute Kittens and puppies (or cute young animals in general) were much more successful in promoting focused work than cute pictures of adult animals. Adult animals are automatically less cute. It’s about cuteness overloaded. The more overloaded, the better, it seems.

Improvements after seeing cute kittens and puppies were 43.9% ±10.3% (± means the margin for error is about 10%) while improvements in performance on seeing adult animals were 11.9% ±5.5%.

Images of other “pleasant” things such as nice looking food hardly worked at all to improve performance.

The Japanese study called it “The Power of Kawaii“. “Kawaii” means “lovable”, “cute”, or “adorable” in Japanese. Well, I’ll just have to completely change my attitude towards cute pictures of cats, even those with silly captions. They actually do something tangible that improves life. The other question I have is, “does this affect different people equally?”.

My interpretation of this is probably simplistic. It is this. If a person is more content they will work better. People will work with more passion and energy if they are content. Cute images of kittens make most people feel more contented and fuzzy inside. Perhaps it creates a false sense that all is well with the world. It seems that this is the obvious and common sense reason why cuteness translates to a better focused employee.

5 thoughts on “Cute kitten pictures make you work better”

  1. Sadly, it is this same “CUTENESS FACTOR” of baby animals that results in their abandonment by human owners as adults when they look a bit uglier or at times develop incurable bad habits.Every abandoned dog or cat at a animal shelter was once the most beautiful pet to its human owner.Agreed,cute kitten or puppy photos do enhance the aesthetic beauty of the surrounding environment, but, the effect could be temporary.As for me, i prefer unique photos of either humans, pets or nature besides always appreciating cute baby animals for their innocent beauty.

    • Well said. I think you have hit on something. People get a cut kitten because it makes them feel good. When the kitten grows up some people get rid of the adult cat (or dog). This is consumerism, isn’t it? This is the human looking to buy contentment at the expense of the cat.

      • I find my adult cats just as cute – so ‘d say those who don’t find older ones cute anymore are incredibly passive people who are consuming in the worst possible way.

  2. I like cute pictures but they are not my daily bread and butter when it comes to images. I get more inspiration from unique or different or beautiful or somehow special pictures that stand out. I think the positive energy and power that is improving peoples performancew is inspiration or love – as felt by connecting to a cute image or an image that invokes those sorts of emotions. Of all the images and feelings that you could be looking at, cute pictures are very positive and happy and pleasing. Nature in it’s splemdour makes me wish I wasn’t in the office to begin with. Many other things are very mental or emotionally less positive, neutral or negative etc So the generic ‘young baby newborn life’ version of cute is in of itself a very nice energy to dose yourself with if you are going to be looking at pictures on the side. Personally I don’t search for cute or post cute on my facebook but I come accross the odd cute pic that I just love. I would suggest going to the lovemeow site for cats and the cute overload site for general animals like bunnies and puppies too. I like cats 🙂 – I like to go to lovemeow occasionally when I am down or tired of seeing animals on death row or horror stories – sometimes a cute kitten with a story of how he was found in somebody’s garden and brought in and flourished into a beautiful wonderful cat is just the thing to make me feel better and even to feel not alone in my crazy cat world where I am the crazy cat person in the flat with 3 cats. 🙂 Thank god for you guys. We are not alone 🙂

  3. It must have something to do with raising serotonin levels. Or maybe dopamine! Lol. I don’t know scientifically, but anecdotally I do. It works. If you get mad, pet your cat. If you are nervous, touch your cat, if you are unsure, look at your cat, or cute cst pictures. Things don’t matter much after getting that raised level of awareness that puts a smile on your face.

    I’m convinced the cat gets something out of it as well. I’ve been doing my own little energy experiment with Bigfoot. In the middle of the night when he is stretched out at my side, leaning in close, and I’m awake (hoping to go back to sleep), I turn my attention to him, without moving a single part of my body. I just notice him, and well up with love. Guess what. He always starts purring, not seeming to even be awake. What do you suppose that is about?

    I’m not sure how long increased productivity lasts, but I love the Japanese for studying it. I think that if the person can recognize the different feeling they get when looking at the pictures and they get practiced at it, they can learn to reproduce the response even without the pictures.

    But then, what fun would that be?


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