Because we want to pinch the cheeks of the children and squeeze the puppies – Daily Mail


Because some people "can not" when they see a puppy and want to squeeze it: the researchers discover that their brain triggers "pretty aggression" to try to calm them down.

  • The researchers were baffled by the phenomenon
  • Some people are hit so hard that they can not "make it" while the brain is almost overburdened
  • To try to allow them to function, the brain triggers an aggressive impulse

Mark Prigg for

If you've even looked at a child and wanted to pinch his cheeks, or you've had an overwhelming urge to squeeze a puppy, you might suffer from "pretty aggression."

Researchers have been baffled by the phenomenon, but now they say it could simply be the way our brain calms us down.

They say that some people are hit so hard by the sight of a cute animal that they simply "fail" while their brains are almost overburdened.

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Californian researchers say that some people are hit so hard by the sight of a cute animal that "simply can not" because their brains almost overburden. In the picture, a six-week-old Flatcoated Retriever puppy


The term "sympathetic aggression" emerged from a team of psychologists from Yale University who published research on the phenomenon in 2015.

Yale researchers initially found that people reported feeling more aggressive in response to baby animals compared to adult animals.

However, they also found that people reported having a prettier aggression in response to the image of human children who had been digitally enhanced to look more childish, and therefore "nicer", magnifying elements such as their eyes, cheeks and foreheads. "

To try to allow them to function, the brain triggers an aggressive impulse.

"Essentially, for people who tend to experience the feeling of" not being able to take what's cute something "," a cute aggression "occurs," said Katherine Stavropoulos, an assistant professor of special education at the # 39; University of California, at Riverside.

"Our study seems to emphasize the idea that cute aggression is the brain's way of" bringing us down "by mediating our feelings of being overwhelmed".

Stavropoulos believes that the phenomenon could be developed as a means of ensuring that people are able to continue taking care of the creatures they consider particularly cute.

"For example, if you make yourself unable to see how cute a child is – so much that you can not just take care of him – that child will starve," Stavropoulos said.

"A cute aggression can serve as a tempering mechanism that allows us to function and actually deal with something we might first perceive as irresistibly cute."

In the future, Stavropoulos hopes to use electrophysiology to study the neural bases of a cute aggression in a variety of populations and groups, such as mothers with postpartum depression, people with autism spectrum disorder and participants with and without children. or pets.

"I think if you have a child and look at pictures of cute kids, you could show more aggression and stronger neuronal reactions," he said.

The same could be true of people who have pets and are watching photos of puppies or other small animals. & # 39;

After analyzing Yale's research that first studied the phenomenon, Stavropoulos wondered if there was a neural component for a cute aggression.

If people report having tried to squeeze, crush or even bite creatures that have found cute, do their brains also reflect patterns of activity that might be related to these impulses?

Stavropoulos hypothesized that the brains of people who reported experiencing "cute aggression", in effect, provide evidence of detectable activity.

He says that the activity could be related to the brain reward system, which concerns the motivation, the feelings of "wanting" and pleasure, or to his emotional system, which manages emotional processing – or, more probably, to both.


The doctoral student Stavropoulos and UCR Laura Alba recruited 54 study participants aged between 18 and 40, all of whom agreed to wear electrode caps.

While wearing hoods, the participants examined four blocks of 32 photographs divided into categories: cute (enhanced) children, less cute (unpowered) children, cute animals (children) and less cute animals (adults).

The participants assessed how overwhelmed they felt after seeing the pictures ("I can not take it anymore!" And "I can not!") And if they felt obliged to take care of what they had just seen ("I want to keep it! & # 39; and & # 39; I want to protect him! & # 39;).

Overall, participants have self-reported more significant feelings of sympathetic aggression, being overwhelmed, evaluated and assisted towards cute animals (children) rather than towards less adult (adult) animals.

Among the two categories of children – cute (enhanced) and less cute (unpowered) – the researchers did not observe the same pattern.

Based on the neural activity that has observed in participants who have suffered a pretty aggression, the results of Stavropoulos offer direct evidence of both the reward system of the brain and the emotional system involved in the phenomenon.

"There was a particularly strong correlation between the ratings of a cute aggression experienced against cute animals and the reward response in the brain to cute animals," said Stavropoulos.

"This is an exciting discovery, as it confirms our original hypothesis that the reward system is involved in the experiences of sympathetic aggressiveness of people."




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