For years advertisers have been strategically placing kittens and puppies into advertisements for everything from toilet paper, to phones, to food. It’s no secret they get a reaction—people just enjoy looking at that kind of thing. There might be more a positive effect than we realize.
Last month some interesting research started making the rounds online: that looking at pictures of cute baby animals actually improves productivity at work. Yes, you read it correctly: looking at baby animals is not a waste of time, but in fact was proven to increase our capacity to work. How great is that?!
The experiment had people look at photos, and then complete a challenging mental task. One group had adult animals, and one group had babies. The group that looked at baby animals overwhelmingly performed better, about 44% higher than the other.
According to researchers the baby-cuteness triggers emotions that help increase our ability for motivation and systemic processing. This is, of course, in Japan, a culture that reveres all things cute (Hello Kitty and Pokemon), but the sentiment is likely universal.
I’m never one to pass up an opportunity to browse shamelessly cute photos, but it does make sense. Just today some research from the Harvard Business Review found that even forcing yourself to smile has an effect on our concentration.
Those doing a task that required concentration (using a non-dominant hand, in this case) performed better when they were asked to hold chopsticks in their mouths, forcing the face into a smile. The effect that smiling has on our brain is well-documented, and now we know it works even if you fake it.
Happiness, it seems, really does help us work better. Science may not completely understand how brain chemicals trigger behaviour, but there is clearly some kind of a positive connection.
In the meantime….keep your day productive and take a moment to smile at some cute baby animals.