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Looking at cute animal photos makes you mentally sharp

Posting in Food

Go ahead, take a break and watch this cute kitten video.

Don't worry, your boss will understand when you say that "viewing cute images improves behavioral performance on a non-motor speeded task."

If that doesn't work, point your boss to this graph (though I take no responsibility in you getting fired because of your cute cat obsession):

It comes from researchers at Hiroshima University who conducted three experiments to see how well people performed tasks after looking at cute pictures of baby animals, compared with looking at pictures of less cute animals, and pleasant pictures of food.

The first experiment had 48 students play a game similar to Operation, in which players remove tiny pieces from small holes with tweezers without touching the sides. In the second experiment, a different group of 48 students performed a visual search task in which they searched for a specific number in a scramble of random numbers. The third experiment had 36 new participants were to correctly identify a letter composed of other letters (see this example), they were judged on quickness and accuracy.

In the first two experiments, the group that viewed images of cute baby animals performed better on the tasks.

Which leads the researchers to this conclusion: "If viewing cute images narrows the breadth of attentional focus and facilitates systematic processing, it may degrade performance in tasks that require broader attentional focus and heuristic processing."

Still, cute animal images on your office walls might soon become a requirement, because the finding are enough for the researchers to say: "For future applications, cute objects may be used as an emotion elicitor to induce careful behavioral tendencies in specific situations, such as driving and office work."

Read the complete study here.

[Via Mashable]

— By on October 1, 2012, 2:44 AM PST

Tyler Falk

Contributing Editor

Tyler Falk freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was with Smart Growth America and Grist. He holds a degree from Goshen College. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure