This puppy: Fluffy time-waster or productivity hack?
Why cute images are a productivity hack
Ingrid Fetell Lee is a former Design Director at global innovation firm IDEO and founder of the blog The Aesthetics of Joy, a leading resource in the field of emotional design.
With over a decade of experience in design and branding, she holds an MA in Industrial Design from Pratt Institute and a BA in English and Creative Writing from Princeton University.
Ingrid Fetell Lee: We find a lot of joy in cute things whether that's baby animal videos or cartoons. And the reason that we find this joy is actually it stems from deep in our evolution.
Cuteness is actually a set of aesthetic features that are "designed" to unlock playful and nurturing behavior in us. And for children even as young as six years old, cute features actually prompt these kinds of nurturing behaviors. So cuteness is actually a kind of defense mechanism that helps protect vulnerable young individuals from harm as they grow older.
So cute features consist of a few basic things. Usually round features—so big, round eyes, a round head that's usually a little bit too big for its body—And these aesthetic signals actually prompt playful and nurturing impulses in a caregiver. And so the idea is that when something has these cute features—whether that's a baby or a baby animal or even a cartoon—These features prompt us to feel a sense of play, and they actually prompt us to engage more deeply with that cute thing so that cute animal gets a lot of stimulation that it needs for its brain to develop.
This one's a little kooky, but research in Japan has shown that looking at cute things actually can increase concentration.
One of the reasons that they speculate that cuteness might influence concentration is that cute things are associated with nurturing, and nurturing is a very focused and detail-oriented activity. And so when people perform tasks after looking at pictures of baby animals they actually found that they were more attentive to detail and more conscientious in the tasks that they did. So this might be another way to both improve performance but also bring a little bit of joy to the workspace. I do this in my own workspace by adding googly eyes to things, which is a very silly way to do it but it actually brings a lot of joy and maybe it also helps me catch errors in my writing.
- Looking at cute things can supercharge your mental focus.
- It triggers the nurturing part of the brain and can actually help you achieve more.
- Don't quote us when your boss catches you looking at puppy videos, though!
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.