PROBLEM: People react with strange turns of phrase when expressing endearment for cuteness, which may be more than just a manner of speaking.
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METHODOLOGY: Sometimes you volunteer to take part in an experiment and you end up receiving electric shocks. Other times, like this time, you get to watch slideshows of cute animals. Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student at Yale, showed participants images of fluffy baby animals ("cute"); animals in preposterous situations ("funny"); or older, serious-looking animals ("neutral"). She asked them to rate each picture on cuteness and on how much it made them lose control: Did it make them want to squeeze something, or "want to say something like 'grr!'"?
Dyer then took a great methodology and managed to make it even better: A different group of volunteers watched slideshows while playing with bubble wrap.
RESULTS: The cuter the participants found each picture, the less they were able to handle it. Funny animals provoked a slightly stronger reaction than neutral ones, but the desire to squeeze the cute animals won by a significant margin.