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Kawaii: The Power of Cute

SleepyKittyDon't be ashamed if you get caught looking at those cute kitty memes while you're diligently working at your desk. Recent studies by the journal PLoS have shown that things that are adorable (dubbed "kawaii" in Japanese) give our minds a little break, allowing us to become more productive when we get back to the real work.

Hiroshi Nittono and his colleagues of Hiroshima University performed studies involving motor tasks (an operation-type surgery game) and global-local letter tasks (identifying a series of random numbers and associating letters with shapes.) Each test proved that viewing images of kittens and puppies prior to performing a task led to an improved performance, even when compared to seeing pictures of adult dogs and cats, or extremely appetizing food.

But what is it about cute animals that makes a better impression on our attitudes towards work? Each experiment showed candidates had more focused attention after the adorable images triggered positive emotions in both female and male subjects.

"This is interpreted as the result of a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency towards systematic processing," claimed Hiroshima University researchers.

So the next time you're having a hard time concentrating on your task at hand, don't be afraid to bust out that video of Boo, and hey, you may be able to convince your boss that a kitten is in order as the new office pet for the well-being and productivity of the company!


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