Monday, January 23, 2006

Why we like cute

"...Scientists who study the evolution of visual signaling have identified a wide and still expanding assortment of features and behaviors that make something look cute: bright forward-facing eyes set low on a big round face, a pair of big round ears, floppy limbs and a side-to-side, teeter-totter gait, among many others..."

This article in the NY Times, reporting on recent research into what makes things cute and why we like it so much also reveals:

"...New studies suggest that cute images stimulate the same pleasure centers of the brain aroused by sex, a good meal or psychoactive drugs like cocaine..."

Which explains a lot. Surely.

Now seriously. Think about babies.

"...Human babies have unusually large heads because humans have unusually large brains. Their heads are round because their brains continue to grow throughout the first months of life, and the plates of the skull stay flexible and unfused to accommodate the development. Baby eyes and ears are situated comparatively far down the face and skull, and only later migrate upward in proportion to the development of bones in the cheek and jaw areas...."

and

"... On starting to walk, toddlers struggle continuously to balance themselves between left foot and right, and so the toddler gait consists as much of lateral movement as of any forward momentum..."

C'mon, aren't you thinking "awww" to yourself right now?

I was going to put a damper on things by musing about the implications for those babies who don't meet standard "cuteness" definitions, but I think I'll just drop that hint and depart.

mary

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