According to a paper presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s annual meeting in New Orleans last week, wanting to squeeze something to death because it’s just too cute is a completely normal reaction. Through their studies, researchers have concluded that seeing something really, really cute could actually make us aggressive. It’s pretty counter-intuitive, but it’s true! Something actually CAN be so adorable that it makes you a little crazy!
The study was lead by Rebecca Dyer, a graduate student in psychology at Yale University. For the first part of their experiment, the research group asked 109 people to observe pictures of animals in different circumstances- some very cute, some funny, and some “neutral” photos. The participants were then asked to rate how they felt after observing a particular picture. They were asked if they agreed with certain statements, such as “I can’t handle it” or “It’s so fluffy I want to die!”, if they felt like they wanted to squeeze something or whether they suddenly has the impulse to say something like “grrrr!”. What they realized was that the cuter the animal in the picture was, the more aggressive the response was.
Rebecca Dyer calls this effect “cute aggression.” She stated,” We think it’s about high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control.”
They did not stop at this first experiment, though. The researchers were curious whether these reactions were simply verbal, or if people actually want to act out on these impulses. (Don’t get nervous, no animals were injured!) The researchers gave volunteers bubble wrap and told them they could pop it as much as they wanted. While watching a slideshow of cute animals, people popped about 120 bubbles, whereas people watching the funny slideshows popped 80 and neutral slideshows popped 100.
There are a few explanations that the researchers give for this aggressive behavior towards cute animals. One reason might be because of a nurturing instinct. Seeing something adorable, like a baby, makes us want to take care of it and cuddle it, but because we cant grab it out of a photograph, we get frustrated and consequently aggressive. Another possible reason for this behavior is that it’s just too much of a good thing. It is very possible that we portray an excess of positive emotion in a negative way ( kind of like when you’re so happy that you cry). Dyer thinks it is possible that putting some negative emotions in with the positive helps us regulate the high energy we feel.
So, the next time you feel like something is so cute you could squeeze it to death, remember that it’s a normal impulse and try not to act on it. Keep bubble wrap at hand at all times!
P.S: In case you want to get aggressive, for some reason, here is some motivation:
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