NCBI ROFL: A novel use for babies!

By ncbi rofl | October 18, 2011 7:00 pm

Infant characteristics and anger reduction.

“Konrad Lorenz first suggested in 1943 that certain physical and behavioral characteristics common to infants (babyishness) serve as cues to attract adult attention and care as well as to decrease the likelihood of aggression. The present study was designed to determine whether the visual stimuli of a baby’s face alone are sufficient to reduce anger. The subjects were 60 female students between 18 and 30 years of age. Anger was evoked by setting unsolvable tasks and by noise and maintained by adequate instructions and by continuing noise. Three procedures of measurement (heart rate, retrospective self-report, and interpretation of facial affect by two observers) were designed to show the reactions of the subjects viewing photos of babies and adults. We found a slight increase in heart rate to be an expression of happiness and a massive acceleration to be an expression of anger. The self-report measures and interpretation of facial affect supported the hypothesis that there is a more positive response to infants than to adults, and to cute babies also a more positive one than to less attractive infants. We found weak evidence that babyishness reduces anger. As a consequence of the length of the experiment, subjects who should not be aroused became angry. Thus, it was possible to register a reduction of anger as reaction to cute infants.”

Photo: flickr/1uk3

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  • Anonymous

    I must be abnormal.  Babies tend to make me angry and feeling aggressive.

    Not that I would ever hurt one- but my stress levels surge just being around babies.  I love kids- but babies just give me the creeps.

  • Catherine Blakeney

    This also works with cats.  Whenever I’m upset, I hug my cat and I feel better.  Whenever my husband is angry, I hand him the cat and he’s almost instantly calmer and more rational.  This study should be expanded to include not just human babies, but anything designated as “cute” – the website Daily Squee would be a great place to start.

  • guest

    test disqus comment

  • Yllaria

    Wouldn’t work with real babies.  Real bablies would evenutally cry and that would increase the level of anger.  They could do an experiment that proved that pictures of babies are more useful that real ones. 


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NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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