Kawaii. The Japanese say the word ‘cute‘ often, and enjoy doing it. They also watch a plethora of heartwarming anime movies and series, with charming characters that trigger unstoppable giggles.
What do the two have in common? You’d notice that the Japanese are among the longest-living in the world. And recent research may explain why their love of watching cute, animated characters contributes to their well-being.
Why Does Watching Cute Things Make a Positive Impact on You?
Nitto et al. performed inspiring research in 2012 that suggests why images of adorable characters enhance a person’s wellness. The research team penned the article The power of kawaii: Viewing cute images promotes careful behaviour and narrows attentional focus.
The researchers first formulated a definition for cute. They deemed it to be a person who is baby-like, with a large head compared with the rest of its body. They wanted to know if the pictures did more than merely an enhanced mood. Hence, they tracked participants’ task performance to see if looking at cute pictures improved it.
After sorting images according to their cuteness levels, participants played a game requiring manual ability and focus. The researchers found that the participants who watched cute pictures did better than those who didn’t.
The implications for job performance are clear: people who have access to all things Kawaii complete their tasks better than those who don’t and have higher productivity!
How Does Watching Cute Things Benefit Your Brain and Mental Health?
If you are still of the opinion that watching videos of adorable animals is a waste of time, further research may prove you wrong. Immersing yourself in the world of Kawaii does wonders.
Promotes Marital Bliss
James McNulty of Florida State University led a research team that found that cuteness enhanced people’s contentment with marriage. He made 144 couples who had been married for less than five years complete marital satisfaction surveys.
The participants of this study then viewed a constant stream of images three times a week for about 11/2 months. While one stream watched cute photos that included their better halves, the other viewed pictures of their partners paired with buttons. The group with cute animals paired with their partners also had better responses to them. They were more content with their marriages as well.
Improvements in Mood and More Significant Stress Response
Researcher Barbara Fredrickson found that lifting mood broadens a person’s perspective. She called it the “Inducing Positive Effect.” That results in higher positivity, better resource building, and resistance to stress. Anything that triggers such a response will work, but cute photos fit the bill best. The researchers found they trigger upward positivity spirals.
Videos Are Great Mood-Changers
And there’s more proof that watching adorable images helps. While gratitude journaling and loving-kindness meditations have a positive effect on mood, positive videos have the most significant impact.
A study found that they work better than other enhancers to induce positive emotions, and can cause what the researchers call Upward Positivity Spirals.
So the next time stress hits, watch a cute video, or look at an adorable puppy picture. You may find yourself doing better work.