Watching Cute Animal Videos is Good for You!

Study finds that videos of adorable animals reduces stress.

Nov 20, 2020
Watching Cute Animal Videos is Good for You! Study finds that videos of adorable animals reduces stress.

Be it a clip of cute kittens or playful piglets, watching videos of adorable animals sparks positive feelings in the hearts of millions of viewers around the world. But watching videos of cute animals doesn’t just feel good, it may actually provide a health boost to viewers.

A study conducted at Leeds University in England, in partnership with Western Australia Tourism, found that watching videos of cute animals had a positive effect on the heart rates and blood pressure of nervous viewers, and reduced anxiety.

Intentionally timed to coincide with the winter exam period, 19 volunteers were shown a 30-minute montage of videos and pictures of cute animals. Most of the volunteers were university students who were scheduled to take an exam just 90 minutes after viewing the montage. 

The remaining volunteers were academic support staff who had told the researchers they were experiencing stress at work. Participants' heart rate and blood pressure were measured before and after the session, and the majority wore a heart rate monitor throughout the duration of the viewing.

They were also asked to self-report their anxiety levels according to the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory before the viewing. This enabled researchers to determine whether their particular anxiety was provoked by the exam or was an underlying personality trait.

“It was clear that students were anxious ahead of their exams, with heart rates and blood pressure for most participants mildly elevated before our session took place,” Dr. Andrea Utley explained to the School of Biomedical Science News at the University of Leeds.

Utley, an associate professor at the University of Leeds, was also responsible for the “cute” component, acting as the creative director for the adorable montage. “There were some kittens, there were puppies, there were baby gorillas. There were quokkas [Australian marsupials.] You know — the usual stuff that you would expect," Utley told CNN.

After the viewing, each of the volunteers was shown to have significant drops in heart rate and blood pressure, with the average heart rate of viewers lowering 6.65 percent.

“I was quite pleasantly surprised that during the session, every single measure for every single participant dropped some — heart rate reduced, blood pressure reduced,” Utley said to CNN

Yet the positive effects of watching cute animals were beyond physical. For some individuals, their anxiety levels dropped a staggering 50 percent. “When they left, they filled the questionnaire in again and indicated that they were feeling less anxious.”

The Leeds University study marks one of the few scientific investigations of the effects of watching cute animal videos. In 2012, a study by researchers in Japan found that watching adorable animal videos helped viewers improve their attentional focus, but the topic has remained outside the usual scope of scientific studies.

Now that the link between cute animal videos and a boost to the viewer’s health has been established, there is a precedent for researchers to explore the subject further. 

If you want to feel calm, watch a shortened clip of the study’s video at the top of this article! Perhaps one day in the future, watching cute animal videos won’t simply be a fun way to pass the time; it could be recommended by doctors for treating anxiety disorders and used as a method to help lower heart rate and blood pressure.

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LAUREN MARCUS, CONTRIBUTOR
Fascinated by storytelling since childhood, Lauren is passionate about the written word. She’s a freelance writer who has covered everything from the latest developments in tech to geopolitics. When she’s not writing, Lauren is interested in genealogical research and family folklore.