Contrary to what the boss probably thinks, looking at cute animal pictures improves work performance, according to a new study out of Japan, home of all things kawaii (cute). Looking at cute animals, say researchers at Hiroshima University, whether they're actual kittens or cartoon characters like Pikachu, creates positive feelings that translate to increased friendliness -- always nice, when you're stuck working on a group project. They also boost productivity.
But the best part of this research is yet to come: scientists tested their theory by having 48 college students view pictures and then perform delicate tasks like removing items from small holes with a pair of tweezers. Yes, that's right: They made them play Milton Bradley's game Operation, basically. The students who looked at cute animals first had significantly better results than those that didn't. They were also more likely to say things like, "I can haz pay inkreeze?" during their performance reviews. (That last part is according to additional research, which we just made up.)
"Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behavior," wrote research team head and cognitive psychologist Hiroshi Nittono. "This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus."
So the next time you fall down a hole in the internet and spend an hour looking at hamsters on swings, you'll know that you're doing it for the company.
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