Ever felt compelled to squeeze an adorable animal really, really hard?

Illustration for article titled Ever felt compelled to squeeze an adorable animal really, really hard?

Sure you have. We all have – and not in a malicious sense. Squeezing is just something you want to DO. Bunnies. Puppies. Wee baby elephants. Ducks. Baby sloths. All wellsprings of the intense desire to hug so hard it hurts. Well it turns out scientists have given this compulsion a name. It's "Cuteness aggression," and they're trying to make sense of it. With bubble wrap.


Over at Scientific American, Carrie Arnold has the lowdown on what science has to say about the universal desire to squeeze baby animals, hard:

Whether we are pinching the cheeks of an adorable toddler or enveloping a beloved pet in a bear hug, most of us have experienced the strange drive to give something cute a gigantic squeeze. New research by two Yale University psychologists details how the sight of something cute brings out our aggressive side. Rebecca Dyer and Oriana Aragon investigated “cute aggression” by showing study participants slide shows of either cute, funny or normal animal photographs. As they watched, the participants held bubble wrap. The researchers, attempting to mimic the common desire to squeeze cute things, told subjects to pop as many or as few bubbles as they wished. People watching the cute slide show popped significantly more bubbles than those viewing the funny or control pictures, according to results presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology annual meeting in New Orleans. “Some things are so cute that we just can't stand it,” Dyer concludes.

Read the rest over at SciAm.

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Ah, good. So I'm not actually a disturbed psychopath. What does science say about a person's desire to punt a small dog off a bridge?