The Power of “Pupper” and “Kitter”: Cute Animal Photos and Concentration

By Ye Jin Chung

Picture this: you’re studying or working in a stressful situation and you stop to take a quick break. You open Instagram. While scrolling, you come across a photo of your friend took of his lovely puppy, Daisy. Seeing this photo unconsciously puts a smile on your face and you instantly feel fuzzy inside. However, did you know that looking at pictures of these adorable puppies and kittens also help to increase your concentration levels?

In 2012, Hiroshima University presented in their paper “The Power of Kawaii” that viewing photos of cute animals helps to raise one’s concentration levels and improve work performance, especially in tasks that require great attentiveness. Kawaii is translated as “cute” in Japanese. They arrived at this conclusion by conducting three experiments on 132 students in which they were divided into separate groups. In the first experiment, students played a game similar to Hasbro’s Operation, where they were required to pick up small objects from a hole without touching the sides. Then, they were shown cute photos of puppies and kittens. After that, they played the game again. Surprisingly, their scores were much higher than prior to viewing the photos. Overall, performance scores improved by 44%; as well, the time taken to complete the task rose by 12%.

Next, in the second experiment, within a certain time limit, students were asked to find a given number from a random sequence of numbers. Like the first experiment, the exercise was conducted twice–once without seeing the pictures of animals, and the other with the pictures. In the third experiment, the remaining group conducted the same experiment as the second one, the only difference being that they were shown food pictures instead of animals. In the end, the group which was shown animal photos had their performance scores improved by 16%. They also completed the task much faster. Students got through more random number sequences than the first trial by 13%. On the other hand, the participants of the third experiment had no change in their results.

With this in mind, next time you’re studying for midterms and finals, try looking at images of our lovable companions. Who knows if it might change your letter grade in psychology from a B to an A-?

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