Cute things makes us more productive!
This research got huge attention in media last year in October, so it’s ”old news”. But I think it’s so interesting so I will bring it up anyway, in any case someone has missed it.
Japanese scientists at the Hiroshima University made a research concerning human reaction towards cute animals. What happens in our brain when we watch puppies with silly hats and cute kittens asleep?
The result showed that watching animal babies makes us more efficient and accurate. In other words, watching cute animal videos and pictures at work do boost our productivity. I guess it may have a great effect on students too, maybe before a difficult task or test.
I usually watch pictures on cute animals at work when I arrive in the morning. Usually, my excuse has been that it puts me in a good mood – which it does! And it doesn’t have to be baby animals. If I pass a dog or a cat on the street, I just can’t help myself from smiling widely.
Anyway, who would do a research like this, if it wasn’t the Japanese. ^^ The country of KAWAII! I mean, almost everything is cute in some way in Japan. Even things that not necessary is directed to children. And I love that. I truly think it has a positive effect on us.
But that it also would make us productive was a surprise to me. How is that possible?
The scientists made a series of tests with people and analyzed the results. 48 college students were divided into two groups. One test concerned playing a game similar to Milton Bradley’s “Operation”, a game that requires focus and a steady hand. They all were ordered to play a round of the game and their result was registered.
Then, the students were divided into two groups. 24 students in each group. One group were exposed to photos of baby animals (considered to be cute), and the other group was exposed to photos of adult animals (considered not to be cute). I just don’t get how you even get the idea behind this test!
Well, then it was gaming time again, another round of “operation”. An lo and behold; it turned out, that the group that had been watching baby animals had become far more successful in the game than the other group. To be exact – their performance increased with 44%.
So they made another test. The students were divided into three groups. The first group watched cute baby animals, the other group watched adult animals – and the third group watched photos on delicious food like steak and sushi.
Then they were challenged again.
The students got to see a string of numbers, and then they had to remember how many times a certain number appeared in that string.
All over again, the “baby animal”-group outperformed the other groups totally.
In the scientists’ paper, they claim that cute things make us happier – but that’s not all – it also affects our behavior. We become more careful and focused.
Why cute things do this to us might still be a mystery, but there are hypotheses. Early Japanese studies shows that humans slow down their speech when talking to babies; the caring and nurturing behavior is triggered in us, which might make us more careful and hence also more accurate. It might also benefit our performance in task concerning helping people (in this case a cartoon guy on a board game…)
So what about the third test… 36 other students were challenged.
None of them had attended to the previous tests. They were divided into three groups and watched the same categories of photos as the previous groups: baby animals, adult animals and pleasant food.
All 36 students were right-handed. I don’t know why, but… well they were.
They watched a screen that repeatedly showed the letter “H” or “T”. When the “H” appeared they were supposed to press the left key as fast as possible. When the “T” appeared they were supposed to press the right key as fast as possible. This task required accuracy and speed.
And do you know what? In this test, the baby-group did the WORST!
This means that watching cute animals do makes us act with care, but do not make us faster. But who want a sloppy fast worker?
A carefully executed task reduces the risks of mistakes and is therefore more efficient in the long term.
It doesn’t have to be puppies and kittens on the screen. Cognitive psychologists, like Hiroshi Nittono for example, claim that all kind of cute stuff in our environment will enhance our well-being and productivity.
For instance, I work at a game development company and our interior is full of colorful cute toys and posters, pillows, figures etc. We are all allowed to decorate our desks however we want. Today, we are very successful with the biggest game in our industry (regarding amount of players), and maybe our “cute environment” has a part I the success. ^^ I would like to think so.
I also like to decorate my home with cute things. It can be a stuffed cat in my window, a doll or Japanese cat in plastic on my wall; anything that brings this “cozy” feeling. I can stare at my Japanese dolls just to enjoy their cuteness and beauty. It makes me feel good. Obviously it’s nothing silly or childish about that – it’s rather smart!
So, decorate your desk at work with cute stuff, and if you start to feel uninspired or not motivated enough, take some minutes YouTubing cute kittens and puppies. If you’re boss is questioning your actions, then you know what to say. ^^
And we have JAPAN to thank for that! ^^