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Cute Alert! Puppies, Kittens, and Babies Help You Focus
Staring at baby animals might actually help, not hinder, our job performance, says a new study.
By Jaimie Dalessio Clayton
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MONDAY, Oct. 1, 2012— For those of us who type away on computers all day at our desk jobs, distractions come often — new-email notifications, pings from coworkers, links to the cutest puppy/kitten/baby animal you've ever seen — you know what I mean. See the kitty and puppy at left.
Awww-inspiring images like these can boost our mood during the workday, sure, (don't you feel better already?) but a new study in the journalPLOS Onesuggests cute images can also enhance our job performance.
Researchers from the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan studied the effects of cute — orkawaii, as it is pronounced in Japan — pictures on task performance of 48 participants, 24 men and 24 women.
In three separate experiments, they measured fine-motor dexterity (with a game similar to Hasbro's Operation), non-motor visual search (which involved searching lines of numbers for specific digits), and focus and attention using a global-local letter task before and after participants viewed images of baby or adult animals. They also tried showing them images of pleasant food and neutral objects.
Those who viewed “cute" images of puppies and kittens showed more improvement in all categories than participants who viewed less-cute pictures, the researchers found.
"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," the study authors wrote in their report.
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