Why people have the urge to squeeze cute animals to death


When I was a kid my friend and I caught some little frogs. My friend liked his frog so much he smothered it to death in his hand. Lenny, the mentally challenged giant in Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, squeezed living creatures to death because he loved them so much. Why do people do this? Two Yale graduate students, Oriana Aragon and Rebecca Dyer, are conducting experiments to find out.

Dyer's hypothesis:

Some things are so cute that we just can't stand them. We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control. It’s so adorable, it drives you crazy. It might be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch somehow. That sort of regulates, keeps us level and releases that energy.

"This aggression may be the brain’s response to the overwhelming joy incurred by such creatures (similar to how some people cry when intensely happy)."

Why Do We Smother Cute Things?

Notable Replies

  1. Whaddaya mean "WE," sicko?
    We're not ALL Lenny from Mice & Men.

  2. It's an interesting thought, and I wonder how it will pan out.

    I always thought this drive was somehow related to the desire incorporate that adorableness into one's self. Kind of a case of "This is a such a desirable quality, and it makes people like you, how do I make it my own?" I guess in a way, I relate it to ancient cultures drinking the blood of their fallen enemies to take on their strength. To me it seems that people want to "capture the adorable" for themselves, and the cuter you are, the more they want ya!

    In Of Mice and Men, Lennie really seems to only aim to be close to that which is soft and cute (I realize that ends up in multiple deaths). He insists that he just wanted to pet the mouse, not do it any harm. When George talks about the rabbits, there's hope that they will be large enough for Lennie to care for them without hurting them. It's a false hope, but Lennie wants softness and kindness in his life. He's at odds with the reality of his situation, and what he hopes it could be.

  3. Filipino's have a word for this emotion, 'Gigil' (pronounced 'GHEE-ghil'). Its funny how I didn't recognize it as 'a thing' until I had a word for it.

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