Why photos of puppies and kittens make people bonkers
A kitten keeps watch at the SPCA L.A. P.D. Pitchford Companion Animal Village & Education Center in Long Beach, Calif., Monday, June 25, 2012. (AP / Damian Dovarganes)
Published Saturday, January 26, 2013 7:00AM EST
Does the sight of puppies and babies leave you squealing with delight, wildly flapping your hands and saying things such as "Oh you're so cute I just can't stand it?" If so, a new study suggests that you may actually fall into the norm.
New research finds that cute things inspire not only an urge toward gentleness and care, but also a response dubbed "cute aggression," in which people respond to cuteness in a physical way, reports LiveScience.
The Yale University study was presented at an annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology on January 18.
"We think it's about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control," said study researcher Rebecca Dyer, according to LiveScience. "You know, you can't stand it, you can't handle it, that kind of thing."
Researchers recruited 109 subjects to look at images of cute, funny, or neutral animals.
Those who watched a slideshow of cute images popped more bubbles on a sheet of bubble wrap than the subjects who viewed less-cute photos.
Also, when viewing images of cute animals, subjects exhibited less control and more desire to make noises or squeeze something, reports LiveScience.
Why? It isn't known but researchers posit that photos of cute babies and animals may induce an urge to nurture, and since you can't nurture a photograph, this energy is released as a type of physical aggression.