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Science Finds That Watching Cat Videos Can Boost Your Performance

Science Finds That Watching Cat Videos Can Boost Your Performance

Cute animal videos are always popular on social media. However, rather than being just a popular way of procrastinating, science has found that looking at all those cute animals is good for your mental health and may even help you work better.

It increases your focus

A study by researchers at Hiroshima University in Japan, found that looking at pictures of puppies and kittens boost concentration and attention. Hiroshi Nittono and his team did the experiments with university students. They noted that “viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”

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The students were asked to perform tasks requiring careful attention. Those who looked at pictures of cute baby animals had their task performance improved. An additional finding of the Japanese study was that students worked at a slower and more deliberate pace after viewing the pictures.

It promotes more careful behavior

In the same study, students were asked to view stimuli involving a large letter made up of smaller letters. After viewing the baby animal pictures, the participants were able to more quickly process the small letters relative to the large one. A possible explanation noted was that caring for babies requires careful attention to their mental and physical health, an idea that fits with findings that looking at baby animals produced more of an effect than watching adult animals.

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It boosts your energy level

A study by Jessica Gall Myrick, a media researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington, found that participants reported feeling more energetic after watching cat-related videos. A study from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found a correlation between humor — something often associated with the cute animal videos — and feelings of energy.

It increases positive emotions and decreases negative emotions

Respondents in Myrick’s study reported less negative emotions, including anxiety, annoyance, and sadness, following a cat-watching session. They noted that the pleasure they gained by watching cat videos seemed to outweigh any guilt they felt about procrastinating on tasks. Scientists have found that a “baby schema,” meaning large eyes, chubby cheeks, big foreheads, and generally rounded features, such as baby humans as well as kittens and puppies, tends to activate a smiling, positive effect and nurturing behavior. It also tends to give a dopamine rush to the brain similar to eating sugar. Oriana Aragon, a Yale psychologist, noted “Our survival depends on us taking care of our young. It’s part of our human species to respond to these features.”

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So, while official cat video breaks may not come to your workplace immediately, workers can help make their case with this news from Myrick:

“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional payoff may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward.”

Featured photo credit: VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com

More by this author

Betsy Ruffin

consultant in writing, research, technology

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Last Updated on January 25, 2021

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

What Should I Do Today? 30 New Things To Do Today

It’s always fun to do something new, but often we fall into the trap of spending our weekends the same way.

If you’re stuck in the same old routine, it might be time to try something new.

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What should I do today? No ideas?

Everything listed here is something you can easily do no matter where you live, and even on a tight budget! Try out one of these 30 new things today, you’ll be happy you did.

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Try Out These 30 New Things To Do Today

  1. Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.
  2. Learn ten phrases in a new language–what about Japanese, Italian or Portuguese?
  3. Listen to a genre of music you haven’t tried before–perhaps Jazz, Punk or Blues?
  4. Have a picnic in your local park complete with a packed lunch and your animal friends.
  5. Start a daily journal to write your thoughts in.
  6. Try a new cuisine–what about French, Lebanese or Korean?
  7. Visit your local library and borrow some books for the weekend.
  8. Plant some flowers in your garden. If you don’t have one, try an indoor potted plant.
  9. Visit a local museum or art gallery and view their latest exhibition.
  10. Learn a new skill–what about sewing, gardening or cooking? You’ll be surprised what you can learn in an afternoon.
  11. Say hello to a neighbor you don’t usually talk to.
  12. Make a card for a friend and send it to them with a handwritten note.
  13. Learn how to cook a new dish for dinner. We all get tired of eating the same thing, why not try making something new?
  14. Re-read an old favorite book. Don’t leave it gathering dust on your book shelf; get it out and read it all over again.
  15. Research the culture of a different country online–what about India, Guatemala or Sweden?
  16. Go for a walk or bicycle ride around your neighborhood.
  17. Watch a classic film like Casablanca, The Godfather or The Wizard of Oz.
  18. Make a photo album of a recent holiday you took. Don’t let your memories get lost on your computer hard drive; make a special keepsake album of your trip.
  19. Visit your local farmers markets and pick out some fresh produce. Farmers markets are full of delicious fresh fruit, veggies and more. Find your local market and take a visit.
  20. Plan a day trip to somewhere outside your city–it might be the seaside, mountains or another city!
  21. Check out what community events are running in your area and attend one.
  22. Make a birthday present for a friend. Handmade gifts are personal and much more special than anything you could buy from a store.
  23. Attend a play at your local theater. Support your local theater and have a fun night out at the same time.
  24. Volunteer with your local nature conservation society to plant some trees. Conservation societies are always looking for helping hands; do your bit and plant some trees.
  25. Be a tourist in your own city and visit all the popular tourist sites you’ve likely never been to (don’t forget your camera!)
  26. Call a friend you haven’t spoken to recently and have a good long chat.
  27. Put on your favorite song and dance your heart out. You might be surprised at how much fun you have!
  28. Invite some friends over for a BBQ. There’s nothing better than an afternoon spent with good friends and good food.
  29. Try out a new form of exercise like Pilates, tennis or swimming.
  30. Organize a clothing swap with your friends. You’ll have a great time, and save some cash and the environment all at the same time!

Now that you’ve read my list of 30 new things to try today, my question for you is, “what new things will you try today?”

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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