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Monday, February 4, 2013

"Cute aggression": Why Do We Want To Squeeze Cute Things?

New research finds that seemingly strange aggressive responses to cuteness are actually the norm.

Dyer and her colleagues asked 90 male and female volunteers to come into a psychology laboratory and view a slideshow of cute, funny and neutral animals.

Researchers told the participants that this was a study of motor activity and memory, and then gave the subjects sheets of bubble wrap. The participants were instructed to pop as many or as few bubbles as they wanted, just as long as they were doing something involving motion.

In fact, the researchers really wanted to know if people would respond to cute animals with an outward display of aggression, popping more bubbles, compared with people looking at neutral or funny animals.

That's exactly what happened. The people watching a cute slideshow popped 120 bubbles, on average, compared with 80 for the funny slideshow and just a hair over 100 for the neutral one.

Dyer said she and her colleagues aren't yet sure why cuteness seems to trigger expressions of aggression.

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