It’s usually a fairly even split in the office – those who coo over pictures of babies, kittens, puppies etc. and those who… don’t. For those who can’t resist a fuzzy baby animal, there’s good news. And if you fall in the second category it might be time to give in to the urge to coo – new research shows looking at cute images could improve your work performance.
Japanese researchers at Hiroshima University made their participants play the game ‘Operation’, which you may remember requires focus and a steady hand. After the first game, one group of students were shown a series of pictures of baby animals while the others looked at adult animals.
In the second round, both groups improved but those who looked at baby animals performed significantly better than the control group.
The researchers link their findings to past studies showing people speak slower when they talk to babies. The ‘cute’ group’s behaviour was similarly slowed down, making them more accurate at the game.
"Kawaii [cute] things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior," wrote the researchers, led by cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono. "This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus."
While these effects could benefit drivers and office workers, adding pictures of baby animals to reports and emails could be taking this theory too far.
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