Cute Aggression | The “Syndrome” & Science

Have you seen anything so cute that you want to hug it till pope or pinch its chubby cheeks or when you look at the pictures of cute babies or beautiful little puppies, it can be very difficult to resist the urge to just, “d’aww!” it is so cute. This is a very common reaction, but it is also very weird when you think about it. It’s not like you’d want to hurt the baby or a puppy, but for some reason, you wish to squeeze it. This phenomenon is called cute aggression. This Cute Aggression syndrome is a dimorphous expression that involves mixing with playful squeezing, pinching and maybe even biting.

Research From The Yale University

Cute puppies or small babies helps us to switch our aggressive side. Researchers from The Yale University call this phenomenon cute aggression. In their experiment volunteers were shown pictures of cute babies or small animals. They were given a bubble wrap while viewing the pictures and the results show that more bubbles were popped by the volunteers when viewing the photos. This analysis shows that we tend to restrained aggression over cute things because they trigger our need to protect them. They also found that baby faces activate a bunch of different brain areas and circuits including areas that have to do with feeling rewarded. So let’s see how our brain functions when we see cute things.

The Science of Cute Aggression

Recognizing something as cute is actually an evolutionary trait. Something with childish or immature trait such as larger eyes, a larger forehead or smaller nose stimulates neural networks which make us we want to take care for and protect it. When you see something cute the mesocorticolimbic system is activated in our mind. This neural pathway connects two parts of our brain called the ventral tegmental area and the nucleus accumbens as well as projecting into the frontal cortex. The brain releases dopamine which is a chemical that is associated with a feeling of happiness and reward. So, when you see something cute the mesocorticolimbic system releases dopamine and this gives you a good feeling. However, this neural network is also involved in aggressive tendencies.

So, it’s thought that when you ever stimulate the mesocorticolimbic system the good feelings of seeing something cute gradually changes into aggression. So at a deep level, we are motivated to care for things with baby-like faces.

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