Viewing cute images increases behavioral carefulness.
Emotion. 2009 Apr;9(2):282-6.
Sherman GD, Haidt J, Coan JA.
Infantile physical morphology—marked by its “cuteness”—is thought to be a potent elicitor of caregiving, yet little is known about how cuteness may shape immediate behavior. To examine the function of cuteness and its role in caregiving, the authors tested whether perceiving cuteness can enhance behavioral carefulness, which would facilitate caring for a small, delicate child. In 2 experiments, viewing very cute images (puppies and kittens)—as opposed to slightly cute images (dogs and cats)—led to superior performance on a subsequent fine-motor dexterity task (the children’s game “Operation”). This suggests that the human sensitivity to those possessing cute features may be an adaptation that facilitates caring for delicate human young.