The Cute Factor: the Science of Cuteness

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The Cute Factor
The Science of Cuteness
When one thinks of the qualities something might possess to be considered ‘cute’, the first thoughts that come to mind usually are floppy ears, babies, big round eyes, fuzzy little critters, etc. But what are the reasons for these images of cuteness that automatically appear in the mind? Natalie Angier’s essay, “The Cute Factor” explains why the human mind must have such a strange and wide range of qualities that are ‘cute’, and also how cuteness affects the way people make purchases.

Initially, humans have places in their brains that act as cuteness detectors, and the bar is set at a shockingly low standard. According to experts, “Cuteness cues are those that indicate extreme youth, vulnerability, harmlessness, and need.” Scientists explain that this actually makes sense considering our offspring, at their youngest, are completely helpless and require constant care. The passage suggests that babies did not evolve to be cute to catch the care-taker’s eye, but in fact the care-taker’s brain is the one that evolved to see the baby as appealing, and infants would never survive otherwise.

One idea that is expressed in the article says that some can feel manipulated by cuteness. This is understandable for the reason that many can feel that they have been ‘taken for a sucker’ by it and that it is cheap. Scientists believe this is so because the cuteness response happens so often, that we can suspect when it is going to happen. Thus, one can be ready to override the cute response with the angry sense that one is being exploited or deceived. Many, scientists claim, may reject cuteness as low or shallow for the lack of real beauty it possesses and can’t understand or grasp the reason for their being attracted to it.

Also, cuteness has transformed and molded the way people buy products and believe pitches and ads. Alongside sleek and...
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