You know all that time you’ve spent at work silently squealing over baby animals to make the afternoon go by quicker? Now you don’t have to feel guilty about it.
New research conducted at Hiroshima University in Japan that found that looking at cute baby animals actually helps us perform better at certain tasks.
Researchers tested college-age men and women in three different experiments, each involving pictures of baby animals, adult animals, and photos of food. In one experiment, the participants played a game similar to Operation, which involves using tweezers to lift small objects from tiny spaces. They were then asked to view images of either cute baby animals, adult animals, or not-so-cute animals.
The second time around, those who viewed baby animals improved their scores by approximately three points and their time by 15 seconds. Those who viewed adult animals barely improved their performance.
It turns out that viewing cute images has a positive effect on behavioral performance in tasks that require carefulness, researchers wrote. Cute animals evoke a sense of care in us, which “makes participants behave more deliberately and perform tasks with greater time and care. Cute features not only make objects more user-friendly and approachable, but also induce careful behavioral tendencies in the users, which is beneficial in specific situations, such as driving and office work.”
On the other hand, viewing photos of food did nothing to help performance. Researchers said it’s likely that images of food don’t produce a feeling of motivation to do well—probably because we expect to eat the food after seeing it, even though it’s not possible.
The full study was published on the online journal PLOS One.
We went ahead and did the very hard work of rounding up some of the cutest videos of baby animals the Internet has to offer. Happy Friday!