Pictures of kittens and puppies increase task performance. Internet rejoices.
A study published last week in the journal PLOS ONE has shown that motor skills and perceptual skills improve after viewing images of cute animals ie. kittens and puppies. Through a series of three tests, three group’s task performance was assessed before and after viewing a series of pictures. The three groups were shown either kittens and puppies, dogs and cats or appealing pictures of food (a rather interesting control). Those which viewed the more ‘cute’ images (kittens and puppies) performed better (after viewing) in all three tests than those viewing the more mature animals. It is also worth noting that there was no significant difference observed in the pre- or post-viewing task performance in the ‘appealing food’ control. As well as this, results from the first experiment, which was basically a game of Operation, replicated results from an earlier study.
Further research using bigger sample sizes and examining the impact of external variables such as race and gender would be nice to see. Does the Japanese penchant for kawaii in their culture effect the results of this study? Answers to questions like this are required before any sort of ‘facile emotion elicitor’ could be implicated in certain taxing environments. Incredibly these included office environments, so next time your boss finds you on r/Aww just wave this research in his/her face.
Something that many will become confused about is that this study cannot be applied to the procrastination induced viewing of these ‘cute’ pictures. Say…..in an online environment. These participants were forced to complete tasks after indulging in some , you may not have that luxury. I like to call this the ‘procrastination-induced kawaii exclusion theory’, but call it want you like.