Science: Watching Animal Videos Could Make You a Better Employee

More

And the more adorable the critter, the better.

[optional image description]
This fellow would like to help you have a productive day. (CuteOverload)

The puppy cam. The kitty cam. This. We watch this stuff at work to procrastinate on our work, right?

Not necessarily, it turns out. It turns out, in fact, that looking at images of adorable animals could actually help us be better at our jobs. No, really.

In a study from Hiroshima University, scientists examined the effects of animals' cuteness -- kawaii -- on human behavior. The researchers, Forbes's Alex Knapp reports, conducted three experiments to determine those effects, measuring both subjects' cognition and their dexterity. In the first, they asked participants -- 48 college students -- to play a Japanese game similar to our "Operation." In the second, they asked participants to perform a visual search using number matrices. In the third, they tested participants' focus.

And here is the good news for anyone who has ever gotten lost in the Internet Animal Matrix: In all three experiments, people who looked at pictures of cute baby animals outperformed those who did not. Even more intriguingly, they outperformed people who looked at pictures of adult animals. "Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior," the researchers write in the paper. "This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus."

Those findings, Knapp points out, build on previous work about the beneficial effects of cuteness. A 2009 study suggested that simply looking at something cute would make people behave more carefully -- also demonstrated through subjects' dexterity with "Operation" -- than people who weren't under the influence of cuteness. The researchers conducting the earlier study suggested that this could be related to childcare: a response evolved in humans to ensure that we treat babies with extra care.

And while more work needs to be done to say conclusively whether and why cuteness affects our overall productivity, the current findings paint a heartening picture. (Of a cat. Embracing a kitten. Who is dream-twitching.) Which is basically all to say: Go watch that puppy cam feed. You deserve it. And your work demands it.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic. She was formerly an assistant editor at the Nieman Journalism Lab, where she wrote about innovations in the media.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What's the Number One Thing We Could Do to Improve City Life?

A group of journalists, professors, and non-profit leaders predict the future of livable, walkable cities


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Technology

Just In