Finally, an excuse to watch all the Maru videos you want.
According to a recent study, watching cat videos is good for viewers' emotional health because it boosts positive emotions and decreases negative ones.
Jessica Gall Myrick of Indiana University Media School surveyed 7,000 people about their cat video-viewing habits and how the videos affect their moods.
"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today," Myrick said in a news release. "We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us."
Myrick's survey revealed that, on average, people watch cat videos two to three times per week and they tend to happen upon the videos in their social feeds, rather than seeking them out.
Unsurprisingly, YouTube — which, in 2014, had more than 2 million cat videos accounting for 26 billion views combined — was found to be one of the most popular sites for viewing cat videos.
Here's just one example:
After watching the videos, people reported feeling more energetic and experiencing less anxiety, annoyance and sadness, and Myrick says such findings indicate that Internet cats could be used as a form of "digital pet therapy."
Her research reinforces mood management theory, which posits that people tend to consume content that maintains their good mood or makes them feel better, and the Internet is full of such content.
This could explain why Web content often described as clickbait — posts composed entirely of animal GIFs or meaningless personality quizzes, for example — are so popular. They make us feel good.
Myrick also found that people frequently watch cat videos while they're at work or while they're studying, and the pleasure they get from watching the videos outweighs any guilt they felt about procrastinating.
"Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward," Myrick said.
A previous study from Hiroshima University in Japan concluded that looking at cute things — such as cat videos — can actually improve focus and concentration.
Researchers found that when participants were instructed to complete tasks that require a lot of concentration, they performed better after looking at photos of baby animals. They attributed this to the fact that by commanding our attention, adorable things narrow our focus and make it easier to ignore distractions.
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