Watching Cat Videos and Puppies Can Lead to "Cute Aggression" Behavior [Pictures!]

First Posted: Jan 28, 2013 05:14 PM EST

A Yale University study claims that looking at cute things, like cat videos and puppies, invokes not just an urge towards gentleness and care, but also a response dubbed "cute aggression," in which people respond to cuteness in a physical way, reports LiveScience.

The study, that was presented at an annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in January, involved 109 subjects that were exposed to images of cute, neutral, or funny animals (readers of this article are exposed as well, enabling an interactive experience!). The different groups received bubble wrap to hold, with the result that the individuals who watched the slideshow of cute images (we imagine groups of kittens and playing puppies...), popped more bubbles on the sheet, compared to the poor subjects who viewed less-cute photos.

Another behavior observed in the subjects watching the cute animals was reduced self-control and an apparent desire to make noises or squeeze something. The reason for the observed behavior is not precisely known, according to the researchers. But one theory mentioned by the psychologists is that photos of cute babies and animals "may induce an urge to nurture, and since you can't nurture a photograph, this energy is released as a type of physical aggression."

"We think it's about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control," said study researcher Rebecca Dyer, according to LiveScience. "You know, you can't stand it, you can't handle it, that kind of thing."

There is a video illustrating this kind of reaction, embedded below:

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