You may think the time you spend slumped in your pyjamas watching cat videos online is wasted, but a new study has revealed that the funny clips have health benefits.
By watching cat videos, viewers boost their energy and positive emotions, and decrease their negative feelings, according to a new study from the Indiana University Media School.
Almost 7,000 people took part in the study published in the Computers in Human Behaviour journal, by filling out a survey about how cat videos affect their moods.
Mike Bridavsky, who owns feline sensation Lil Bub, aided researcher Jessica Hall Myrick by sharing the survey among the cat’s millions of online followers.
Myrick used the results to uncover whether cat videos had the same positive impact as pet therapy, and if viewers experienced negative emotions after watching cat videos because they felt guilty for procrastinating.
The data showed that people felt less anxious, annoyed and sad after watching a cat-related online media.
And in good news for procrastinators, the positive emotions sparked by watching cat videos outweighed any feelings of guilt over time wasting.
The study also revealed that the most popular sites for watching cat videos emerged as Facebook, YouTube, Buzzfeed and arguably one of the original ‘funny cat’ websites, I Can Has Cheezburger
“We all have watched a cat video online, but there is really little empirical work done on why so many of us do this, or what effects it might have on us,” said Myrick, an assistant professor at Indiana University.
“Even if they are watching cat videos on YouTube to procrastinate or while they should be working, the emotional pay-off may actually help people take on tough tasks afterward,” Myrick said.
As the more than 2 million cat videos which were posted on YouTube in 2014 alone have garnered almost 26 billion views, Myrick has also sought to defend an area of academia which some may regard as unimportant.
“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today.
“If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.
“As a media researcher and online cat video viewer, I felt compelled to gather some data about this pop culture phenomenon," she said.
Future studies will likely investigate how online cat videos might be used as a form of low-cost pet therapy, she added.
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