From newborn puppies to mischievous kittens, we can all agree that baby animals are indeed very cute. But, why exactly do we find these young critters so adorable? In recent years there have been various psychological studies on humans’ attraction to baby animals. The answer seems to lie within the human brain.
Distinguished scientists have discovered that certain features in young animals trigger an affectionate response within a human’s brain. Baby animals, particularly mammals, with features such as round faces, low set eyes, big cheeks, floppy limbs, a clumsy nature, and other such traits are deemed cute to humans. It is no coincidence that babies have similar characteristics.
Psychologists have said that these “cute traits” stimulate our natural nurturing instincts. In a Darwin-sense, these nurturing instincts are ingrained within us because they’re important to our survival. In order for our species to endure, we must have an active part in caring for our young. Interestingly enough, the nurturing/ survival instinct can be triggered by anything that resembles babies’ characteristics, including young mammals.
New studies also show that this “cuteness factor” boosts our brains’ pleasure center in just one-seventh of a second. The pleasure center is also stimulated by “sex, a good meal, or psychoactive drugs.” Just as with a baby, a young animal’s “cute factor” changes as the animal matures. The adorable characteristics of their face change as they become adults and the nurturing instinct is no longer stimulated as much.
Cute animals do not only affect our brain. They can also affect our wallets and social lives!
Cute animals are constantly used in advertisements to encourage consumers to buy their food or watch their television programs. Studies from the Université de Bretagne-Sud in France also found that the homeless are given larger donations more frequently if they are accompanied by a puppy. Studies from the same university also found that women are more likely to agree to go out with a man if he introduces himself with a young puppy.