Working on your empathy? Ponder baby animals

Working on your empathy? Ponder baby animals

Two recent studies reveal surprising benefits from viewing photos of cute animals. Will we break the internet?

December 2, 2019 By Anne-Sophie Cardinal

Love it or hate it, our Facebook and Instagram feeds are bursting with cute puppies and kittens. Whether they fill your heart with joy or grate on your nerves, there may be an upside to this abundance of cuteness. According to American and Japanese studies, these types of images could make us more attentive, more focused and gentler. Researchers explain that the tenderness that we feel when viewing pictures of baby animals comes in part from mechanisms related to empathy.

Impact on the brain
Conducted in the United States, the first study compared one group of people who were shown photographs of baby animals with a second group that was given images of adult animals. All participants were then asked to perform a task requiring fine motor skills and concentration. The results indicated that those who viewed baby animals were more likely to be cautious, attentive and gentler. A second study, conducted by Japanese researchers, confirmed these findings by showing—similarly—that fine motor skills and concentration were enhanced in participants who had viewed young animals compared to those who had seen adults.

Thoughts, emotions and behaviour
Both teams of researchers explain that the concept of embodiment-the interaction between our sensory experiences and thoughts, between our emotions and our behaviour-helps to explain the study results. In other words, the images we see influence the way feel, move and behave.

Do you procrastinate on social media by watching cute baby animals? There's no need to feel guilty. Science shows that you're actually working on your empathy!

More like this
Copied to clipboard

This site uses cookies

We use cookies. These are small text files downloaded to your computer (smartphone or other electronic device) which save your browsing preferences and help customize your online experience. By using Pawsie, you agree to our cookie policy.

OK, I understand