01/22/2013 14:01 EST

Love For Cute Things: Why We Lose Control When We See Cute Things


There's just something about a baby's chubby cheeks that gives us a violent urge to squeeze them. Always.

And now, science has explained why we have a constant need to poke, squeeze and even say 'we want to eat' things we find cute.

"We think it's about a high positive-affect, an approach orientation and almost a sense of lost control," said researcher Rebecca Dyer of Yale University in an interview with "You know, you can't stand it, you can't handle it, that kind of thing."

Being curious about the subject of 'cute aggression', — our urge to hurt all things cute — Dyer and her team asked volunteers to pop bubble wrap while watching a slideshow of cute, funny and neutral pictures. On average, people watching the cute slideshow popped 120 bubbles, compared to 80 for funny pictures and 100 for neutral ones.

But that doesn't quite explain why we get such strong emotions when it comes to adorableness. Other studies have shown our love of cute also has something to do with our desire to look at younger versions of things, or pedomorphism, as scientists term it. Evolutionary biologists, on the other hand, suggest things with big 'puppy dog' eyes and bobble-like heads look vulnerable, precious and needy, giving humans an urge to protect and take care of them — like we would with our own kids.

And while science has shown how our brain reacts to cute things, others suggest looking at cute Internet cats or baby pandas rolling around in the snow, makes our brains want to forget about things. For example, cat posters were used to get people's minds off the Vietnam War, according to, and make the day go by easier.

Dyer adds that even though we want to squeeze all things cute, we actually don't want to intentionally hurt them. Instead, our positive emotions turn into negatives ones — like when kids squeeze babies or pets too hard, for example.

"It might be that how we deal with high positive-emotion is to sort of give it a negative pitch," Dyer said in an interview with "That sort of regulates, keeps us level and releases that energy."

Do you get hyperactive and giddy when you see a cute kid or animal? Let us know in the comments below:

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