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Why Do We Share Cat and Kid Pictures and Videos on the Internet?

Puppy and Baby

Mom sends them, Erin McCarty posts them, friends share them and our in-boxes are stuffed with them at all hours. Sometimes cleaning out these emails takes more time than reading the actual emails that you NEED to read. Those posts, emails and shares are filled with cats and kids.

Here is the reason why the internet has been completely overrun with videos of cats and

Photo: Wiki Commons/Pieter Lanser

kids. It’s actually has been studied by The Society for Personality and Social Psychology in Texas. They have found that loading up Instagram with photos of dogs and Facebook walls with baby photos is actually a compulsion based on how “cute” the picture or video.

The same thing that drives you to pinch a baby’s cheeks or like a photo of a kitten playing with string comes from the same place. It is something at overrides your inhibitions.

Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University, said:

“You know, you can’t stand it, you can’t handle it, that kind of thing….We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control.”

Baby Food Festival
Baby Food Festival

A new study out of Yale found that when we see something cute, our bodies are wired to lose control and become overwhelmed by our desire to share the cuteness. So when you see a cat video, you feel a strong biological urge to spread it around. So strong that even people who you’d normally think are TOO COOL to lose their minds over puppies or babies can’t resist sharing them.

Here’s the creepy part, a group of 109 volunteers was recruited to look at pictures of animals divided into categories: Cute, funny or neutral. The subjects rated how much each picture made them feel a loss of self control, such as “I can’t handle it”, and how much they want to squeeze something.

Ms Dyer told LiveScience she decided to research the subject after discussing with colleagues how adorable internet pictures often produced an over-reaction, such as the urge to squeeze a critter and found that something called “cute aggression”. Odd? Yes, she said:

Cute should inspire a sense of care and delicacy.


“It might also be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch somehow,” she said.

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