Cuteness makes people aggressive, scientists say

Have you ever seen something so adorable that you just want to squeeze it? Well, scientists are saying that what might actually be occurring is form of pent up aggression.

During a study, 90 male and female volunteers were given bubble wrap and asked to watch three different slideshows. One was full of adorable animals, the other somewhat half-full of adorableness, and the third mostly pictures of old dogs with neutral expressions (Science, eh?).

… the researchers really wanted to know if people would respond to cute animals with an outward display of aggression, popping more bubbles, compared with people looking at neutral or funny animals.

That’s exactly what happened. The people watching a cute slideshow popped 120 bubbles, on average, compared with 80 for the funny slideshow and just a hair over 100 for the neutral one.

Dyer said she and her colleagues aren’t yet sure why cuteness seems to trigger expressions of aggression, even relatively harmless ones. It’s possible that seeing a wide-eyed baby or roly-poly pup triggers our drive to care for that creature, Dyer said. But since the animal is just a picture, and since even in real life we might not be able to care for the creature as much as we want, this urge may be frustrated, she said. That frustration could lead to aggression.

The full text of the study is up on Live Science and is a fascinating read.