‘Cute aggression’: Why our brains love puppies and kittens


I harass my dog [constantly]. She’s a little loaf of a thing, with big eyes and satellite-dish ears and a teeny snoot, and she is so cute that I have overwhelming urges to, among other things, bite her ears and gently boop her nose. As odd as this all might sound when spelled out, [lots] of people share these impulses toward dogs, babies, or other wee things they find excruciatingly adorable.

This affliction has a name: “cute aggression.” And for the first time, researchers have begun to map what’s happening in our brains.


Their findings, published [December 4] in the journal Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, suggest that experiencing cuteness sends many people on a neurochemical roller coaster, with their minds’ attempts to balance themselves resulting in bizarre, intense displays toward tiny, helpless beings. This over-the-top response might serve an important purpose: to ensure that those of us who experience cute aggression don’t spend so much time cooing at a baby or puppy that we forget to take care of it.

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Because caretaking is an essential element of human life, mapping the neurological events behind it could also help illuminate other notoriously difficult-to-treat problems, such as postpartum depression. Whatever the future implications, though, at least you now have a scientific explanation for any stray urges you might feel to jiggle a particularly chubby puppy.

Read full, original post: This Is Your Brain on Puppies

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