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  • There's no denying that human babies are cute.

  • But even other species tend to have adorable infants.

  • So why has science conditioned us to find babies so precious?

  • Is there something specific that triggers our urge to hold and squeeze them?

  • Interestingly, studies have found that macaque monkeys pay little attention to newborn faces, leading researchers to believe that the cute feeling may be an entirely human trait.

  • Unlike many other species, once born, human babies are completely dependent on their parents for survival.

  • As a result, humans have adapted to find certain traits aesthetically pleasing and downright adorable in an effort to increase interaction, care and protection from parents.

  • This, in turn, enhances offspring survival and perpetuates our species.

  • But what exactly makes something seem cute?

  • Known as baby schema, scientists have come up with a set of tested traits that make something appear cute.

  • These include a large rounded head, relative to the body, large eyes below the mid-line of the face, protruding cheeks, a big forehead, round body, and soft surfaces.

  • Awwww!

  • And, no doubt, our species is born with fully grown large eyes, almost full-sized brains, soft skin, big cheeks, and round bodies.

  • In fact, in tests where baby photos are manipulated to have more baby schema traits, whether they're human babies or dogs and cats, for example, they're rated as cuter and participants felt a stronger motivation to take care of these babies.

  • Even when the front of cars were altered in accordance to the baby schema, like making the headlights become larger to mimic big eyes, participants experienced a more positive response.

  • It turns out it's all in our head!

  • When viewing babies with enhanced baby schema proportions, the mesocorticolimbic system of our brain is activated.

  • These parts of the brain enhance the anticipation of a reward and can lead to a sense of enjoyment and motivation to care for something and the urge to cuddle or hold an object.

  • But what about things that aren't... so cute?

  • In fact, some creatures are downright ugly!

  • So what does science have to say about these?

  • Our friends at Earth Unplugged have answered this very question in our collaboration on animals,

  • so click on the screen or on the link in the description to find out.

  • Huge thanks to the team at Earth Unplugged for providing us with all this footage.

  • Go watch their video and follow them for even more amazing content.

  • And subscribe for AsapScience for more weekly science videos.

There's no denying that human babies are cute.

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Why Are Babies So Cute?

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    Halu Hsieh posted on 2015/04/23
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