Cute Animal Photos Boost Your Mental Focus

©. Getty Images

Need help paying attention? Cue up the cute baby animals.

Well this is ironic. I'd say that few things distract this writer more than a slew of wee sloths and slow loris. But as it turns out, looking at cute baby animal photos may actually work to increase focus, according to researchers exploring the subject.

Psychology Today reports that psychological scientists from Hiroshima University in Japan found that cute pictures of baby animals "can have powerful effects on attention and concentration."

Lead researcher Hiroshi Nittono and his colleagues carried out three experiments comprised of 132 university students and determined that cute photos can improve performance on detail-oriented tasks that require concentration. In the experiments, students who viewed baby animal photos showed more improvement in focus and paying attention to details than students who looked at photos of adult animals and neutral objects.

“This study shows that viewing cute things improves subsequent performance in tasks that require behavioral carefulness, possibly by narrowing the breadth of attentional focus,” notes the paper.

The scientists suggest that our nurturing instincts are behind it all. We are hard-wired to perk up and pay attention to babies who rely on our attentiveness for their safety and well-being.

“This study provides further evidence that perceiving cuteness exerts immediate effects on cognition and behavior in a wider context than that related to caregiving or social interaction,” the researchers write.

In the meantime, here's a little help to get you focused.

Baby pika

© Tony LePrieur/Flickr

Baby chicks

pxhere/CC BY 2.0

baby goat

© schubbel

CC BY 1.0. Matt MacGillivray/Flickr

Matt MacGillivray/Flickr/CC BY 1.0