Why looking at cute animal photos at work should make your boss happy

January 6, 2015, 1:16 p.m.

When cute is more than just cute

Check out this little red squirrel. Isn't he cuuuuute? Maybe if you're looking at this at work, you'll find yourself being more productive. At least, that's what a study by Hiroshi Nittono and his colleagues at Hiroshima University in Japan suggest.

We know that cuteness brings out the protective side in us, protective even to the point of becoming more aggressive. But can it make us more productive as well? The researchers found that when it comes to needing focus and concentration, surrounding ourselves with cute things can help. The researchers had observers do tasks that require quite a bit of concentration, including finding certain numbers within a matrix of numbers within a time limit, or finding a letter within a larger set of letters as quickly as possible. They found that after looking at photos of cute baby animals, observers did better at the task.

Scientific American reports, "The scientists concluded that cuteness not only make us happier, it also improves our performance when we need to be careful (such as when taking a school test, I imagine), by narrowing our attention and eliminating distractions. The authors go so far as to suggest that we may want to surround ourselves with cuteness when we need to act carefully, for instance while 'driving and [doing] office work'."

So next time you want to take a mental health break and watch some cute cat videos, let your boss know it's all an exercise at having a more productive work day!

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