October 8, 2012

Kittens And Puppies And Productivity, Oh My!

Recently, I heard a story on the radio about a Japanese study on viewing online photos and videos of cute animals, particularly cute baby animals, and most specifically kittens and puppies. In the study run by Hiroshi Nittono, Michiko Fukushima, Akihiro Yano, and Hiroki Moriya, the researchers found that people who view videos and photos of cute animals are more productive at work. All I could think was, “Awesome.”

Kawaii is the Japanese term for cute, and as the study purports, the Japanese make looking at cute, almost childish things, a social experience. So this study makes sense for them. But it also makes sense for other cultures. How many of us have received that forward with the picture of the cute puppies all cuddled together to make the shape of a heart or the video of the kittens grooming humans. Yep. We love them. They make us smile, and we can’t help but pass on the images. Then it’s back to work.

What’s amazing about this study is that it found when we return back to work after viewing these cute images, we are more productive. We have increased attention and better motor skills including dexterity and improved accuracy. The study found that even viewing images of dogs and cats helped improve our productivity, but viewing images of cute little kittens and puppies and other baby animals improved all of this—attention, motor skills, productivity—even more.

I’m just swimming in smiles at this entire study. First, the fact that some scientists and researchers study such ideas warms my soul. So often studies are focused more on fixing some ailment or disease, yet this is more about how we can find an improved affective feeling state, or in other words, how we can find more happiness. This study is about curing the grumpies and negativity. I really like that. I like the idea that emotional issues and diseases are studied just like physical ones.

I also love that it happens to be puppies and kittens and baby animals that made the participants more productive. I love animals. I love their role in ecology, but I also love their connection to humans. My pets bring me such joy and comfort. This study shows that everyone can find at least a semblance of what my animals bring to me just by looking at images of baby animals.

Moreover, this study shows that neither cats nor dogs are better because the pictures of both kittens and puppies increased productivity in the participants. I love this. The seemingly never-ending battle between cat lovers and dog lovers must consider this cute study in the argument. Obviously, both are right.

Finally, what I love about this study is that I already view cute images of kittens and puppies. I always feel happier afterwards, but I never really considered that the images were the culprits for my improved behavior. According to this study, the images definitely improved my state and thus my productivity. I love, love, love this study.

You know, the Huffington Post has an entire section of its website dedicated to cats. It’s called Huff Post Cats, and the first image you’ll see is a kitten cam. Why don’t you go take a gander? You might just finish that project more efficiently and feeling just a bit happier.

Image Credit: Oshchepkov Dmitry / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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