Looking at “Cute” Photos Leads to Increased Work Productivity Japanese Study Concludes

By Emily Murray

While some of us may guiltily minimize our browser window hiding the adorable kitties or puppies we were looking at when our bosses walk by, a new study has proven that these may actually help us be more productive. Distractions helping us work harder? Yup, at least that’s what science is telling us!

Research was conducted in Japan studying the impact of “kawaii”, or what we call “cute things” in America, on overall productivity. The results highlighting the surprising findings were published this week in the online version of the U.S. journal Plos One.

Three separate studies were conducted using a group of around 130 university students of both genders. These students were split into groups and were asked to complete different tasks. The first required participants to drop small objects in a relatively small hole without touching the sides much like the game Operation. The second group had to locate a specific number from a group of random numbers with restricted time.

As these tasks were completed a few variables took place. The students did what they were instructed before and after seeing photos of baby animals, adult animals and tasty food like sushi and pasta. The adult animals and the food were used to test whether it was actual cuteness or simply a pleasant sight that could impact productivity. In both the men and women in the study, the differences in the tasks before and after viewing the baby animals had the largest spike in overall improvement by a sizable amount.

It seems that when we look at cute animals, especially baby animals, we are more attentive naturally as we think of potential threats to their safety as out nurturing side takes over. This same attentiveness can then be used to improve our overall productivity without us even noticing it.