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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Kittens wearing bow ties, tiny giraffes and sleepy sloths could make students more productive.

A study titled “The Power of Kawaii” — “kawaii” means “cute” in Japanese — found that looking at pictures of attractive animals results in higher performance.

Researchers showed Japanese university students pictures of baby animals and had them complete a variety of tasks. Factors like their fine motor skills, reaction times and attention spans showed up to a 44 percent improvement from when they viewed adult dogs and cats.

Neil Rowland, professor and chairman of the UF psychology department, said the findings could be due to the mood cute pictures induce.

Certain cognitive stimuli place people into a particular frame of mind. While the anxiety and tension sometimes caused by exams may lead to poor performance for some students, positive stimuli that reduce stress may enhance it, he said.

“When you see a picture of a puppy or a cute infant, then very often you feel sort of warm and fuzzy and sort of relaxed,” Rowland said, “and so you might go into the subsequent task in a fairly sort of relaxed state.”

But not all students associate looking at pictures of adorable animals with increased productivity.

Zoology junior David Boyd, 20, said he sometimes encounters the pictures on websites he visits to waste time.

“If I’m at the point where I’m looking at pictures of a wombat shaking someone’s hand, I’m not in a productive stage of the afternoon or evening,” he said.

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