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Study: Pictures of Adorable Babies, Animals Improve Concentration

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File photo of two-week-old puppies. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of two-week-old puppies. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) -- The findings of a new study indicate that looking at pictures of images universally agreed upon as cute can help improve one’s ability to focus.

Researchers at the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences at Hiroshima University in Japan sought to figure out how the experience of viewing “kawaii” – Japanese for “cute” – images affects behavior.

“Kawaii … things are popular because they produce positive feelings. However, their effect on behavior remains unclear,” the study, which was published in PLOS One on Sept. 26, stated. “In this study, three experiments were conducted to examine the effects of viewing cute images on subsequent task performance.”

The three tasks used in the study tested the participants’ motor, visual and global-local letter recognition skills before and after looking at pictures deemed adorable.

“Results show that participants performed tasks requiring focused attention more carefully after viewing cute images,” the study concluded.

The report added, “In the first two experiments, viewing cute images improved performance on tasks that required carefulness. Experiment 3 showed that viewing cute images narrows the breadth of attentional [sic] focus and reduces the global precedence effect in a subsequent task.”

Researchers additionally asserted that cute images could be used to foster careful behavior and improved focus in situations such as driving a car and completing work.

A reported 48 right-handed students at the university – 24 men and 24 women between the ages of 18 and 22 – were used in the first two experiments.

In the third task, 36 right-handed students in the same age range, also split in half by gender, were asked to participate.

The relative cuteness of the images themselves was also examined by the team conducting the study, to help establish “the psychophysiological state underlying the feeling of cuteness.”

“The images of baby animals were rated as cuter and more infantile than the images of adult animals in all the three experiments,” researchers found. “When the participants rated the images of both baby and adult animals … the former were rated as more pleasant than the latter.”

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