And the more adorable the critter, the better.
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."