What is cute – scientifically? This video by YouTube user Vsauce answers this question wonderfully. For example, did you know that looking at cute pictures activates the same part of the brain as using cocaine or meth?
Cuteness is usually characterized by a small body size with a disproportionately large head, large eyes, small nose, and round and softer body features. Infantile personality traits, such as playfulness, curiosity, innocence, affectionate behavior, and a need to be nurtured are also generally considered cute.
In 1945, Konrad Lorenz argued that infantile features triggered nurturing responses in adults and that this was an evolutionary adaptation which helped ensure adults cared for their children. Lorenz noted that humans react more positively to animals that resemble infants than to animals that do not.
Emily Howard, Producer and On-Air Host, helps create EarthSky audio and video science products in English and Spanish. You might hear her voice on an EarthSky 90-second podcast, or on EarthSky 22, your weekly 22 minutes of science and music from Austin, Texas. Emily oversees the scheduling and production of EarthSky en Español’s audio, video, and online content. She is responsible for setting and enforcing deadlines, and reporting on product development. Emily graduated with honors from the University of Texas with a major in History (focus on Latin American Studies) and a minor in Spanish. She further cultivated her Spanish skills while living abroad in Valparaíso, Chile, and traveling extensively throughout South America, Mexico and Spain.