The Best Test Prep? Looking at Baby Animal Photos, Studies Say

Two minutes until your exam starts you’re frantically scanning your notes, trying to glean secrets to boost your grade. You cram furiously, sometimes in groups, with all the noise and hysteria, and for what? Has the extra minute ever proved to be beneficial? Your time would be better spent looking up cute pictures of baby animals. Seriously, this is a thing. A study by Hiroshi Nittono and his colleagues at Hiroshima University in Japan shows that cuteness creates positive feelings in viewers, but also goes as far as improving our performance and concentration.

Specifically, cute baby animals help boost our performance when faced with a task that requires our undivided attention, such as exams. The study compared various groups: those who viewed adult animals versus those who viewed baby animals. The baby animal group outperformed the adult group in every area tested including fine motor skills, non-motor visual search tasks and global-local letter search tasks (a search task with the object of picking out specific letters against distracting letters). Those who pre-gamed with baby animal pictures made fewer mistakes, took longer to complete the task (in the sense that they were more deliberate in their actions), were more focused and were less distracted. However, in tasks that required speed, groups that viewed baby animal pictures were able to complete the tasks faster and more accurately than other groups.

The study even tested mouth-watering pictures of food. Food was rated more pleasing than the animal pictures. The idea was to see if pleasantness was the sole factor in performance boost. Unfortunately for those of you following food porn accounts on Instagram, food pictures will do nothing to boost performance.

The science behind this magnificent discovery? The result of looking at something kawaii (Japanese for cute) is “a narrowed attentional focus induced by the cuteness-triggered positive emotion that is associated with approach motivation and the tendency toward systematic processing.” Essentially, the cuteness brings on positivity that helps reign in your focus and eliminate distracting factors. Scientists suggest that this is an evolutionary development, so adults won’t find their babies repulsive and obnoxious enough to neglect them.  

The authors of the study concluded that if there is a need to act with care, we should surround ourselves with cuteness. Just look at cute baby animals before studying, exams, driving (before, not during) and doing office work. It seems like all those times you spent perusing Buzzfeed links to overdose on cute baby animals were actually (minorly) productive. In the future, consider limiting yourself to one cute baby animal session a day. Perhaps an extra glance for good luck just before an exam? If you’d like to learn more about the life-changing study, visit the following websites:

1. The Scientific American2. Kawaii Japanese Study3. The Daily Mail.

Having trouble getting that paper started? Check out this website that motivates you to write by supplying you with puppies, kittens or bunnies every time you hit a certain word count: Written? Kitten.

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