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Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

Cute images 'help boost concentration'


HIROSHIMA — Seeing pictures of cute animals boosts workers' performance in jobs requiring concentration, an experiment by a team led by a Hiroshima University professor has shown.

The finding, which involved nearly 130 college students, was published in an article called "The Power of Kawaii" in the online version of U.S. science journal PLOS One.

"Whether at home or work, we may be able to increase efficiency in what we do by putting cute objects around us," said Hiroshi Nittono of Hiroshima University.

Test subjects were asked to perform two sets of tasks: picking up small items with tweezers from a hole without touching the sides, and finding designated numbers from a line of digits.

The students were divided into three groups and each was shown seven photos of kittens and puppies, or of adult cats and dogs, or of sushi and other food. The team compared the students' work performance before and after seeing the photos.

The group that looked at kittens and puppies saw their accuracy and speed improve 44 percent in the first task and 16 percent in the numbers task, the team said. There was no performance change among the other groups.

"The feeling that something is adorable has a function to prompt a person to want to be closer to and know more about the object," Nittono said. "That, perhaps, creates the effect of concentrating one's attention."

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