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Aww bless, cute pictures make you clever

A real study by proper scientists has shown that taking breaks to look at fluffy kittens improves concentration.

Reassuring news for procrastinators with a mushy disposition. Looking at pictures of fluffy kittens and clumsy puppies is good for concentration and improves cognitive performance.

Or so say a group of bona fide, real-life, researchers from Hiroshima University whose latest paper, ‘The Power of Kawaii’ was published last week. Kawaii, if you’re curious, is the Japanese word for cute.

For many, this will be the scientific confirmation for what they have been telling themselves all along, but what does the study show us?

The results are quite striking. In the first experiment, the participants, 48 randomly selected male and female university students, played Operation in the name of science. They then sorted through some images of either puppies and kittens or adult cats and dogs and played again. The cute watchers improved their performance by 44% while the others only improved by 12%.

People took more time to do the exercise after looking at the images, suggesting that, “viewing cute images makes participants behave more deliberately and perform tasks with greater care.”

The researchers carried out further experiments and found that there was a big improvement in performances in visual tasks too. Apparently, looking at “pleasant food” had little to no effect.

Kawaii things not only make us happier, but also affect our behaviour,” the researchers write. “Viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioural carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus.”

So there you have it, spending all day on Reddit isn’t a waste of time after all (as long as you play Operation or carry out a similarly demanding task afterwards).

So, will this earth-shattering news reach our decision makers? Can we get puppies to stumble around the chairs in number 10? Will bankers be greeted with kittens at their Canary Wharf offices? Maybe not, but I’d be surprised if children across the country don’t use the “recharging my concentration” line come homework time.