The Science of Cute

At one point or another, we’ve all been victims of cuteness and the affection spillover that’s associated with it. Whether you got a bit distracted by a video of a cute cat getting into mischief or you just could help but stare a while longer at a picture of a cute baby, this just proves how powerful cuteness can be. But how exactly does it work? Scientists have been trying to figure out why this happens. According to an Austrian scientist called Konrad Lorenz, the answer lies in a concept known as ‘Kindchenshema'(also known as baby shema).Baby shema traits that are responsible for making things seem cute. They include traits such as a large and round head, big eyes, chubby cheeks, high forehead, round body and soft skin.

That’s why anything with baby schema traits are often thought of as ‘cute’ including both animals and inanimate objects such as teddy bears.

What are some of the effects of “Cuteness?”

It has been linked to the release of Dopamine hormone which is also the same chemical that is released when people take drugs, have sex and fall in love. Dopamine is a happy hormone which also helps us to pay less attention to stressful situations.

A research carried out in 2009 that involved showing images with contrasting baby schema traits found that people felt a more intense need to care for the babies with cuter faces. This proves the relationship between cuteness and nurturing instincts. Babies and young animals are weak and fragile and their cuteness could just be their way to stay alive.

Cuteness has also been linked to concentration. According to a rather interesting study carried out by a team of Hiroshima University researchers, people tend to concentrate more after looking at a picture of a cute baby or animal. This led them to believe that human brains are naturally tuned to zap to the attention of a cute thing. That could just be why many cartoons especially Japanese ones often have cute characters. You’ll rarely find anyone dozing off to an anime or Mickey Mouse Cartoon episode.

Disney has really tapped into the science of cuteness to widen its fan base. Over the years, Mickey Mouse’s features have evolved to display a more infantile-like appearance such as larger eyes , smaller head and a more thickened and snub snout to make it look cuter. The villains in the show were made to have a more adult like appearance which are less cute.

Who knew there was so much more to cute babies and puppies than just making us go “Awwwww”!

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