The Grapevine

Why Looking At Cute Animal Videos Could Help Strengthen Your Relationship

Everyone knows that funny cat videos can be the perfect remedy for a bad day, but a new study says that looking at cute animals can also reignite that spark in your marriage. Researchers found that showing people photos of their spouses with happy images or words actually elicited a positive response when thinking about their partners later.

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The sample was comprised of 144 couples married less than five years and under 40 years old. About 40 percent of the participants, who were 28 years old on average, had children.

pug-690566_1920 Science says cute animals are good for your relationship. Pixabay

The study began with several tests that measured relationship satisfaction and an exercise documenting each person’s automatic attitude towards their spouse. Then, each partner looked at photos of their husband or wife every three days, with either a positive image, like a puppy, or neutral image, like a button. This went on for six weeks. Every two weeks, couples completed exercises that measured how they felt about their spouses for eight weeks total.  

Researchers found that people who viewed positive images alongside their partners’ face had more positive automatic reactions compared to the control group. Not only that, but people who saw the happier photos also indicated that they were happier in their marriages.

“One ultimate source of our feelings about our relationships can be reduced to how we associate our partners with positive affect, and those associations can come from our partners but also from unrelated things, like puppies and bunnies,” said study co-author James K. McNulty of Florida State University, in a statement.

While previous research on this type of conditioning indicated it would be successful, the professor was surprised that it worked.

“All the theory I reviewed on evaluative conditioning suggested it should, but existing theories of relationships, and just the idea that something so simple and unrelated to marriage could affect how people feel about their marriage, made me skeptical,” he said.

McNulty hopes to use these findings to help couples struggling with long-distance relationships.

“The research was actually prompted by a grant from the Department of Defense – I was asked to conceptualize and test a brief way to help married couples cope with the stress of separation and deployment,” McNulty said. “We would really like to develop a procedure that could help soldiers and other people in situations that are challenging for relationships.”

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Looking at cute animals online can do more than just boost relationship satisfaction. A Japanese study from 2013 revealed that looking at images of animals increased productivity and mood in students. So there’s no reason not to indulge in looking at animal pics during that afternoon slump. According to science, cute animals will make you better at work, happier, and could improve your relationships.

See Also

Money And Psychology: More Wealth Does Bring More Happiness, Study Says

How Pets Can Improve Your Health: Animals May Lower Children's Risk Of Obesity And Allergy Problems​

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