Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Can cute kitten videos help your productivity? According to science they can!

 


A study that was published in PLoS ONE  last year looked at how the human mind is affected by looking at cute baby animals or kawaii (did I mention the study was Japanese?).  They had subjects do several types of tasks:
  1. Play the board game Operation--which requires a fair amount of concentration to use tweezer to retrieve those little game pieces out of those oddly shaped holes on the board
  2. Look for a specific number in a matrix full of numbers
  3. Identify a larger letter made up of smaller different letters within a three second time-limit
The subjects looked at cute baby animals between sessions and there was also a couple of control groups that looked at pictures of food and adult animals instead.

The results of the experiment were rather surprising.  Viewing cute baby animals made the subjects better at tasks that required carefulness either in motor dexterity or perception. In other words, viewing cute little babies causes our brain to narrow our focus. After all, don't you want to be careful and attentive around a baby?  Watching videos and looking at pictures can trick our brain into thinking there's a baby around and then motivate us to work more carefully and more attentively.

There's actually a writing tool on the web that uses this concept fairly well.  It's called "Written?Kitten!" The site is simple to use.  You simply go to the bottom of the page and put in the minimum number of words you want to write for the session (the default is 100).  Then, when you've written to your target words, a kitten picture pops up.  Instant gratification!

Do you have any mind tricks to help you get your work done?

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