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Julian: Happiness, is it possible to feel it so intensely it manifests itself as aggression?
Does this sound crazy? Have you ever picked up a puppy and felt the inexplicable urge
to squeeze it. Do you have a crazy aunt who likes to pinch your cheek. Have you ever picked
up someone from the airport and almost hugged the life out of them? I know I have.
Well earlier this year psychologists at Yale University coined the term for this phenomenon.
It's called "cute aggression." And it's a real thing! Now you can take my word for it or
you can check out this study. We thought we'd try that experiment for ourselves here in our lab.
We brought in a selection of volunteers to act as our subjects, and showed them a
slide show of animal photos. Before we started the show I handed each subject a sheet of
bubble wrap and told them once the slideshow began they should feel free to pop as many
or as few as they felt like. Here's what happened next.
Participant 1: It's so cute!
Participant 2: Oh my god, you guys are getting me with these dog images!
Julian: Well, for our experiment we had you watch a slideshow
for neutral photos you popped four bubbles. For the cute pictures you popped
45 bubbles. Participant 3: Is there something wrong with
the brother. [laughs] Julian: Why do you think it evoked a physical
reaction? Participant 4: I really don't remember a reason,
just kind of popped randomly. Participant 5: It's just something about popping
those bubbles that makes you like ugh. P2: I think it just has more of an emotional
reaction. When you have a picture of cute animals especially animals interacting with
each other. Participant 6: Watching the images, the ones
that really stuck out or made an impact were the ones where there was some sort of connection
or bond. P7: I'm a person that when I'm happier I tend
to fidget more often, and so I'm more prone to popping.
Julian: For the neutral group you popped 2 bubbles. We actually wrote down the two you
chose to pop on, you chose the billy goat and then you popped on the ant. Do you remember
what you were thinking? P8: Annoying?
Julian: have you heard of the term "cute aggression?" P2: No.
P9: No. P8: Maybe.
P3: No. P6: I don't believe so, no.
P5: As in when a kitten aggressively attacking your fingers?
Julian: No. When you see something so cute you're overwhelmed by it and you feel the
need to vent that feeling or you might even get frustrated, can you think of any instances
where you might have actually felt cute aggression for yourself?
P1: I have seven brothers and sisters and I'm the oldest. I remember pinching their
cheeks a few times, maybe a little harder than was pleasant for them.
P2: It happened the other day when I saw this cute dog walk by and I'm like, "Oh my god
the dog is so cute I just want to hold it pet the dog and make it my new friend" but
it wouldn't allow me to do that. P9: So we got this little puppy when I was
like 18 and as soon as I got it I just felt the need to like take a bunch of pictures
of it and put it all over Facebook for everyone to see how cute this puppy was because I just
wanted to show the world how cute he was! Julian: So your response to overwhelming cuteness
is to take a lot of pictures and show everyone. P9: Yes! Exactly!
P3: When I first moved to California my wife was still in St. Louis for four months so
when she first came here I think I hugged her tighter than I usually would.
And other things. [laughs] Julian: I'm done.
So, why would cute aggression exist? Cute aggression doesn't mean we literally want
to hurt something that's cute. In fact, it's quite the opposite. When we see something
that's cute, it's human nature to want to take care of it, but since we obviously can't
reach through the screen and touch it we become internally frustrated and we vent it out as
aggression. We exhibit positive emotions in negative ways all the time. Like feeling so
happy you can cry, which many of you did when you watched our first video, which you can
check out down below. Ultimately cute aggression is nothing to worry about but, if that aunt
does tell you that you're so cute that she could eat you up, run! So, does cute aggression
ever happen in your life? Why don't you share it with us by uploading a video response or
telling us about it in the comments. I'm Julian, and this as been The Science of Happiness.
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The Science of Happiness - A Study of Cute Aggression

2413 Folder Collection
林利憲 published on June 12, 2014
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