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The Sudden Urge To Squeeze A Cute Baby Or Adorable Animal Is Referred To As “Cute Aggression” And Played A Key Role In Human Evolution

Drobot Dean - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or dog

When you see a cute, chubby baby or an adorable, fluffy animal, do you just get the sudden urge to squeeze them? It turns out that this response is perfectly normal. In fact, there’s even a scientific name for it. It’s called “cute aggression.”

In 2015, researchers from Yale University found that when humans are faced with cuteness, our reactions are often dimorphous, meaning they can be both positive and negative. The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.

People can have a range of reactions to “cute stimuli,” including smiles, tears, and aggression. The researchers concluded that these responses are caused by intense positive emotions, not an observation of the actual cute stimuli.

Later on, a psychologist from the University of California, Riverside, named Katherine Stavropoulos, coined the term “cute aggression.”

Stavropoulos decided to try to see if brain activity was able to record the phenomenon. So, she conducted a study along with a doctoral student, and their findings were published in 2018.

The researchers measured the brain activity of 54 people between the ages of 18 and 40. They showed each person 32 photographs from four different categories.

The images were of adult animals, baby animals, and two sets of human baby pictures. The first group of human baby photos were edited to make them have bigger eyes and chubbier cheeks.

The other portraits were either left untouched or altered to make them appear less cute. After looking at the images, the participants had to fill out a questionnaire about how cute they found each picture and the level of cute aggression they experienced.

The photos of baby animals produced the strongest response. The participants felt more overwhelmed with emotion when viewing the baby animals. They thought the baby animals were cuter than the adult ones. They also found both sets of human baby pictures equally cute.

Drobot Dean – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only, not the actual person or dog

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