Aww! Cute animals may help concentration

By Paul Harper

Kawaii! Photo / Thinkstock
Kawaii! Photo / Thinkstock

Struggling to get motivated at work today? Looking at cute animals at work may boost your productivity, Japanese researchers have found.

Researchers from Hiroshima University have found that looking at "kawaii" - Japanese for cute - images before undertaking a task increases concentration levels.

In the first experiment, students were asked to complete a game of Bilibili Dr Game - essentially a Japanese version of Operation. Of the 48 participants, half were shown images of baby animals, while the rest looked at adult animals, before attempting the game again.

Those who looked at the cute animals improved their performances, while the other group did not.

The second experiment asked the participants to look at groups of numbers and answer how many times a certain digit appeared, within three minutes. A different 48 participants took part, but were this time split into three groups, one looking at baby animals, another looking at adult animals and a third group looking at pictures of food.

Again those who undertook the task after looking at the cute animals improved their performance from when they did not look at any images before the test. The other two groups did not significantly improve.

A third test backed up the findings of the first two tests, with those who viewed cute animals performing better at a global-local letter task.

Their findings have been published in online journal PLoS ONE.

"Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behaviour," the paper concluded. "This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioural carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus. This effect is not specific to tasks related to caregiving or social interaction. For future applications, cute objects may be used as a facile emotion elicitor. Cute features not only make objects more user friendly and approachable, but also induce careful behavioural tendencies in the users, which is beneficial in specific situations, such as driving and office work."

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