Our weakness to all things cute and fluffy is a human trait that, in evolution terms, ensures care and protection for our offspring.
This is due to a specific group of baby-like physical characteristics called “Kinschenschema.” This baby schema is based on big, rounded features, including an oversized head, large, wide eyes, chubby cheeks, etc. Along with soft skin and clumsy movement, these qualities lead to that overwhelming “aww” response we get when we see cute things.
When one study showed a group of people pictures of altered infant faces, participants in the study felt a strong desire to take care of the babies that had the most features related to Kinschenschema.
According to The New York Times, cuteness is associated with vulnerability, infancy, harmlessness and basic instinct. Since babies need constant assistance to survive (feeding, protection, etc.), human beings are wired to want to nurture and cuddle anything that resembles a baby, whether it’s a waddling penguin or a chubby-cheeked gerbil. This is why we love to hold babies just as much as we love petting soft, pudgy puppies in our laps.
This even includes animals that are much larger and stronger than us and definitely can’t fit in our laps.
Not only do cute things make us want to protect and love them, but they can also make us extremely happy. This is because some studies associate cuteness with sex or even cocaine, stimulating the same pleasure sectors of the brain.
So next time you’re feeling down, look up pictures of baby animals and prepare for some cuteness overload. Just don’t be surprised if you end up trying to adopt one.