When we see a cuddly animal or an adorable baby, the reaction is usually “aww”.
Now a Griffith University researcher wants that feeling to be recognised as a distinct emotion and important driver of human behaviour.
Professor Ralf Buckley of Griffith’s School of Environment found that, while many cultures and languages have words for cute, none have formal names for the emotion we feel when we see something cute.
Professor Buckley says the linguistic gap is particularly surprising since so called “cute-emotion” has considerable biological significance.
“Cute-emotion is principally a response to characteristics such as big round eyes, small size, and softness,” he says.
“These characteristics are involved in human mate selection and human parental care. Cuteness also has social functions, used in the design and sales of products such as clothing, toys and videos.”
Professor Buckley proposes that cute-emotion deserves substantially greater attention in psychological research, building on existing studies and adopting all the methods used widely in studying other human emotions.
He’s even suggested a name. “What do you say if you see something really cute? In English, probably, “aww”, so that’s the new name for cute-emotion!” he says.
You can read more about the cute emotion here. Story credit: Griffith University newsroom.
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