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Looking at 'Cute' Things Improves Concentration: Study

Update Date: Oct 01, 2012 10:10 AM EDT
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There might be a rare someone who does not like kittens, puppies and babies. Almost everyone likes to look at cute things and it seems, it is for the best. A team of Japanese researchers claim that looking at the pictures of these cute little balls of delight increases our concentration.

The title of the study is "Power of Kawaii", where "kawaii" means cute. For the study, the researchers from Hiroshima University conducted three separate experiments before concluding that people showed higher levels of concentration after looking at pictures of puppies or kittens, reports Wall Street Journal.

For the research, around 132 university students were divided into three groups with each group assigned to do a different task.

The first group was asked to carefully pick up small objects from a hole without brushing the sides, while the second was asked to find a given number from a random sequence of numbers within a certain time limit.

Both the groups performed the tasks twice. Once before looking at seven pictures of either puppies and kittens, and once after that.

In the group that was assigned the number task, one subset of participants was given food images like steak, pasta and sushi to see if "pleasant" images had similar effects as cute ones.

The subjects were not aware that looking at the pictures was a part of the same experiment.

In the first group, it was found that those who were shown images of puppies and kittens did a better job after seeing the images than those who looked at adult cats and dogs. Apparently, there was an improved performance score by 44%. Also, along with the concentration, there was also found to be an increase in the time consumed to finish the task (12%).

"This finding suggests that viewing cute images makes participants behave more deliberately and perform tasks with greater time and care," said the researchers, according to the published paper.

Similar results were seen the group with numbers experiment also. This suggests that looking at cute images has a positive impact on attentiveness even when the task at hand is unlikely to raise feelings of empathy, the report said.

Also, it was found that those who saw kitten and puppies were more accurate and faster. There was, however, no change among groups that saw cats and dogs, and food images.

The authors of the study suggest that in future, cute objects may be used to trigger emotions "to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work."

The paper was published in the online edition of the U.S. journal Plos One.

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