Can cute puppies make you lose your taste for babies?

By Seriously Science | May 7, 2013 10:00 am

Photo: flickr/lifecreations

Previous studies have taught us that round faces and high foreheads are the main ingredients in the recipe for cute babies. But this just brings up bigger and more important questions. What makes cute puppies cute? If you look at so many cute puppies that you become bored of them, will you still be able to appreciate cute babies? Thank goodness these researchers did the experiments to find out!

Sweet puppies and cute babies: perceptual adaptation to babyfacedness transfers across species.

“Infant faces are very salient stimuli. The Kindchenschema describes specific features that characterize a cute infant face. In this study we used a visual adaptation paradigm to investigate the universality of the perceptual properties of the Kindchenschema. In Experiment 1, twenty-four participants adapted to cute and less cute human infant faces and in Experiment 2, twenty-four new participants adapted to cute and less cute faces of puppy dogs. In both experiments the task was to assess the cuteness of subsequently presented human infant faces. The results revealed cuteness after-effects for human infant faces in both adaptation conditions, suggesting a common mechanism coding cuteness in human and non-human faces. This study provides experimental evidence for the universality of the well-described concept of the Kindchenschema.”

Bonus quote from the full text:

“In the pre-adaptation phase all test stimuli were randomly presented and the task was to rate the cuteness of these faces on a QWERTZ computer keyboard using the keys “S”, “D”, “V”, “N”, “K” and “L” on which we added stickers that were marked with the values 1 to 6 (reflecting the cuteness levels, 1 = uncute, 6 = cute). The participants were asked to use the index finger, middle finger and ring finger of each hand to enable spontaneous and fast reaction.”

Photo: flickr/lifecreations

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Viewing cute images increases behavioral carefulness
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: When life gives babies lemons, they make cute faces.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: What makes a cute baby cute?

  • TexCIS

    People call their pets “fur kids” . . . and more and more couples are skipping the real thing. Wake up people, if we don’t make a cultural shift back to appreciating children, we’re going to have a stagnant or declining economy for decades – like Japan, Italy, Greece, Russia, and most of Europe. Where do you think taxpayers come from? Who feeds the Ponzi scheme of Social Security? Who do you think will pay back the national debt? Where do you think customers come from, and buyers for the house you want to sell some day? They come from fathers and mothers willing to have and raise children. The U.S. birthrate is now below replacement rate. Even with current immigration rates, we’re not keeping up.

    • Brian Lockett

      Welcome to the 21st century. Family culture just isn’t cared about much these days. Any strong society starts from the healthy household, but family life is something sadly going out of style.

      I blame our modern complacent culture of always seeking fun and leisure. We don’t even buy phones anymore unless it features full range of entertainment first. Seems like everyone wants to party–no one wants to parent.

      The same case is also true with farming, which also usually rely on family power. Seems like everyone wants to sit at a desk–no one wants to milk a cow locally for society. Local farming and local business are becoming desperately needed as we grow, but fewer want to step up.

      It’s as if we’re advancing ourselves right back to more primitive way of life someday. We may avoid family life (and farming), but it seems like we’ll struggle as we reduce ourselves back to direly needing it anyways.

    • Resbaseco Solution-one

      Sorry, can’t afford the hassle. I’ll let the rest of you hatch the seedlings. I promise to donate to education, though. And prisons. Oh, and support the troops!

      Cheers and good luck with the little devils.

    • StallChaser

      It’s funny that you mention Ponzi schemes, when that’s essentially what exponential population growth is. It can’t continue forever, because the Earth has a finite amount of resources. It’s only a question of whether the birth rate drops, as is happening now, or the death rate rises (through famine and war) until it matches or exceeds the birth rate. I, for one, prefer the first option.

    • Shalryn

      Maybe the reason why so many people don’t want kids is that they are not allowed to raise them. When spanking became “child abuse,” we lost our ability to properly raise our young. We are animals, just like the rest of the critters out there. And when their young need to be brought into line, it’s not usual for the younglings to get a firm cuff. It doesn’t have to hurt much; it’s the shock value that does the work. If it’s over-used, there’s no shock value, so that isn’t advisable. However, if it’s not used at all, there is no shock value, and it also teaches the child that there are no surprising consequences.

  • Shalryn

    I am clearly a biological fiasco, because at no point in my life have I considered babies to be cute.They look like little wee Jabbas with legs. I know I would be a terrible mother, so I have made a point of not walking that trail. That way, I don’t ruin some kid’s life just to prove a point.


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