Cute Aggression Is A Thing And You Probs Have It
Ever get that overwhelming urge to smoosh cute things? It's pretty normal, and might even be useful.
Scientists have finally proven that cute aggression -- the uncontrollable urge to squeeze, crush or bite cute little puppies/kittens/human babies -- is not just a weird, inexplicable feeling but a legitimate neurological phenomenon.
In a paper published on Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, researchers from the University of California proved that feelings of cute aggression are tied to the part of the brain that relates to reward processing and emotions.
In "'It's So Cute I Could Crush It!': Understanding Neural Mechanisms of Cute Aggression" authors Katherine Stavropoulos and Laura Alba showed 54 participants aged 18 and 40 four sets of images: cute babies, less cute babies, cute (baby) animals, and less cute (adult) animals.
The experiment revealed that participants rated the cuter animals significantly higher than the less cute animals in terms of warm and fuzzy feelings.
A baby penguin, for example, made people feel super-duper overwhelmed by positive emotions and feelings of caretaking.
A fully-grown penguin? Same, but not so much.
Stavropoulos and Alba mapped the participants' brain activity and were able to pinpoint areas related to emotions -- such as feeling overwhelmed -- and reward.
Their findings supported their hunch that this unusual response to tiny, sweet defenceless creatures is actually beneficial.
“My hypothesis is that cute aggression serves as a ‘regulating’ response when people are feeling too overwhelmed by something cute,” Stavropoulos told Inverse.
“I think when people are overwhelmed by how cute something is, and their reward system is really activated, there might be this need to regulate that overwhelming feeling, and cute aggression may serve that role.”
So the need to squeeze that soft, fluffy duckling is your brain's way of trying to tell you to calm the eff down.
Back in cavemen times, if you were a blubbering, cooing mess how were you supposed to protect baby ducky from Saber-toothed tigers?
It's surprising that it took scientists so long to prove that cute aggression is a legit thing.
It was documented by the very reliable and scholarly site Urban Dictionary waayyy back in 2014 -- thanks H-Swizzle.
What this new study also found was that not everyone experiences cute aggression.
“It’s definitely not a universal experience, which I find fascinating,” said Stavropoulos.
“When I describe the phenomenon to people, I usually see that about 70 to 75 percent of people nod immediately and know exactly what I’m describing and have experienced it."
The other 25 to 30 percent look at me strangely and have no clue what I’m talking about or why anyone would feel that.”
Feature image: Getty.