Viewing cute images promotes a careful behavior and narrows attentional focus

People who looked at pictures of cute animals "improved performance on tasks that required carefulness." The results of the experiments are in a paper titled The Power of Kawaii, by Hiroshi Nittono , Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, and Hiroki Moriya, published in the Public Library of Science (PLOS).

This study examined the effect of viewing cute images on subsequent performance in unrelated tasks. The images of baby animals were rated as cuter and more infantile than the images of adult animals in all the three experiments. When the participants rated the images of both baby and adult animals (Experiment 3), the former were rated as more pleasant than the latter. In the first two experiments, viewing cute images improved performance on tasks that required carefulness. This effect was found in a fine motor dexterity task that was related to helping others (Experiment 1) and in a non-motor visual search task that was irrelevant to caregiving or social interaction (Experiment 2). The improvement was associated with either a decrease or an increase in performance speed, depending on the nature of the task. Experiment 3 showed that viewing cute images narrows the breadth of attentional focus and reduces the global precedence effect in a subsequent task.


Image: Ozan Kilic