Spiders or kittens? Sharks or koala bears? Did you turn your nose up at two and coo at the other two?
It’s clear we are more attracted to cute, baby animals. We seem to widen our eyes, gasp quickly and put our hands over our mouths, no matter what the species. It’s like a universal language but what makes animals, babies in particular, so appealing to us?
The chaps from the science and technology magazine How It Works revealed reasons why we find miniature paws and big eyed lemurs adorable.
Now this bit’s rather sciency, so concentrate.
A system called the mesocorticolimbic system is stimulated when we see something cute. This causes a surge of the neurotransmitter dopamine and makes us feel all warm and fuzzy. Our brains commit to that rewarding feeling to memory, which means it’ll happen again and again.
Our emotional response triggered by the cuteness, also stimulates the motivation to care for the animal, probably why more household pets are usually adorable.
This can then happen at any time when our brain is triggered by creatures we find cute.
Let’s talk about the definition of cute.
According to The Oxford Dictionary, it means attractive in a pretty or endearing way. You only have to type in on Google images ‘cute animals’ and what you get is pages and pages of fluffy, baby animals.
I feel pretty sorry for the slimy, scuttle-like, big-toothed animals that don’t quite fit the criteria. Who gives them love and affection? You’d be pretty gutted if you were a cockroach. Not needing nurturing or protecting by anyone, no big eyes or soft textures but a harder exterior – are we scared of any animal who poses a threat?
The only time humans give you the time of day is to stomp on you before you run under the fridge. Not fair.
Humans have the desire to take care of others. But it seems like they only pass the test if they’re cute. If they fail, they will never receive any affection from us, how sad.
But don’t feel sorry for them, it’s not your own choice; it’s the signals the mesocorticolimbic system is sending.
By Hannah Williams