When you see an adorable baby or a cute fluffy puppy, do you have an urge to squeeze the cuteness right out if it? Have you ever heard someone say something like, “that baby is so cute I could eat it!”? Well as funny as it sounds there is some correlation between our desire to mush up, eat up, or squeeze tightly the things we find so cute or adorable that, as people have been known to say, they “just can’t stand it.”
A study, which was recently presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, described research evidencing this common reaction to cuteness. When people were shown a slide show of adorable fuzzy animals they were more apt to pop bubbles in a sheet of bubble wrap than those who were viewing funny or neutral pictures. It was an automatic response.
Researcher Rebecca Dyer, who is a graduate student of psychology at Yale University called this a “high-positive effect” and related it to a loss of control. Dyer was clear that this response is not pathological one and that people don’t actually want to hurt these animals. None of their research subjects expressed an actual desire to literally injure these cute critters.
The participants were able to rate their reactions to the pictures shown to them and also score how much each picture made them feel out of control by either agreeing or disagreeing with a statement such as, “I can’t handle it.” They were also able to rate how much the picture made them feel like squeezing something or saying something like, “grrr!”
It all sounds pretty silly but it is in fact, innately human. The grandmother’s desire to pinch the cheeks of her grandchild or the strong desire we feel to hold tightly, or care for the cute animal, or baby we lay our eyes on. These aggressive tendencies, however harmless, are relatively predictable.
Think about your own reactions to seeing something particularly cute or cuddly. Most of us are susceptible to what I like to call the warm fuzzys and we all have our unique ways of expressing our desires or state of being overwhelmed by a feeling. Notice how seeing something adorable makes you feel and subsequently react, then pay attention to this instinct in others, as well. You will most certainly see that it is just another unique aspect of being human.
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