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Need a productivity boost? Try a kitten

A new study has found that viewing pictures of baby animals increases concentration and focus.

Michelle Starr
Michelle Starr is CNET's science editor, and she hopes to get you as enthralled with the wonders of the universe as she is. When she's not daydreaming about flying through space, she's daydreaming about bats.
Michelle Starr
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1 of 12 Yawning tiger cub image by Tambako the Jaguar, CC BY-ND 2.0

Sumatran tiger cub

A new study has found that viewing pictures of baby animals increases concentration and focus.

The Japanese have long known that cute things produce happy feelings — but apparently they do a lot more. Researchers at the Graduate School of Integrated Arts and Sciences, Hiroshima University, have found that looking at adorable baby animals gives workers a spike in productivity, too.

The study, "The Power of Kawaii", published last week in scientific journal PLOS One, was split into three groups. In the first, 48 university students were asked to play a game similar to Operation. In between sessions, the students were shown a card with either a picture of an adult or a baby animal. Those who viewed the baby animals performed 44 per cent better at the game, although they took a little longer to do so.

The second group, consisting of 48 students once again, was asked to perform a visual test in which they had to find a particular numeral in a grid without the aid of pointing. In between sessions, one third of the group viewed baby animals, another third viewed adult animals and the last third viewed pictures of pleasant food. The baby animal group performed better by around 16 per cent, while the food group experienced no significant change in performance.

In the third section of the experiment, 36 participants were tested on reaction time, tasked with indicating whether a display showed the letter H or the letter T. Viewing baby animals was found to reduce the global precedence effect.

According to the study:

The results replicated and extended the result of Sherman et al that viewing cute images has a positive effect on behavioural performance in tasks that require carefulness. The effect occurred not only in the motor domain, but also in the perceptual domain.

If you want to test this study for yourself, click through our gallery of adorable baby animal photos below — and bookmark Zooborns for a regular fix.

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2 of 12 Duckling image by Dan Davison, CC BY 2.0

Red-crested Pochard duckling

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3 of 12 baby two-toed image by Matt MacGillivray, CC BY 2.0

Two-toed sloth

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4 of 12 Youngkitten image by That Guy, From That Show!, public domain

Domestic short-hair kitten

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5 of 12 Sus scrofa piglet image by Sander van der Wel, CC BY-SA 2.0

Wild boar (sus scrofa) piglet

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6 of 12 Loki assists the gods, and sometimes causes problems for them image by MythicSeabass, CC BY 2.0

Loki the boxer pup

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7 of 12 Crías de focas 2009 (1) image by =mc2, CC BY-SA 2.0

Atlantic seal pup

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8 of 12 Yun Zi - Baby Giant Panda - IMG_1729 2 image by fortherock, CC BY-SA 2.0

Yun Zi the baby giant panda

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9 of 12 otter pup image by Michelle Bender, CC BY-SA 2.0

Asian small-clawed otter pups

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10 of 12 newborn fawn just 2 minutes after birth image by Clay Junell, CC BY-SA 2.0

White-tailed deer fawn

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11 of 12 Baby Elephant Running image by Brandon Daniel, CC BY-SA 2.0

African elephant calf

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12 of 12 Hatchling In Ripples_ image by US Fish and Wildlife Service Southeast Region, CC BY 2.0

Sea turtle hatchling

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